Do You Think You Might Have A Dram Shop Claim Against Concrete Cowboy? Here Are A Few Things You Should Know
My firm has sued more bars than anyone else in Texas. Whether it's your local Applebee's or a dingy dive, every licensed establishment has an obligation to ensure safe service of alcohol. But I'm not sure the general public is fully aware of just how serious a problem it can be when businesses fail in that obligation. To help improve our collective understanding, I sometimes take some time out of my day to look through the TABC's public records of complaints and report my findings. If you believe you may have a Dram Shop claim, please call me at (855) 326-0000.
Concrete Cowboy, brainchild of the entertainment investors the So Clutch Group, is a chain of trendy "industrial-chic" nightclubs. The franchise has five locations--four in Texas and a fifth in Chicago.
A glance at Concrete Cowboy's Yelp reviews suggest the franchise may have some problems with racial discrimination, not unlike its fellow Dallas bar the Kung Fu Saloon. As off-putting as that is if it's true, also disturbing is the chain's habit of running afoul of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, or TABC.
From 2016 to the present, Texan Concrete Cowboy locations were investigated twelve times for alleged violations of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code. We don't have information available on the Chicago location, but hopefully it kept its nose cleaner.
Important note: A complaint against/investigation of Concrete Cowboy doesn't indicate its guilt or imply any patterns of TABC violations. Conversely, if investigators don't find evidence that a location violated the law, that doesn't mean the alleged violation did not take place. It's often tough to find proof that malfeasance took place. We're not here to accuse this bar of anything; we're just reporting incidents put on the TABC's radar for one reason or another by concerned citizens and law enforcement agencies.
Concrete Cowboy Locations that Have Been Investigated by the TABC Since 2016
Dallas - 2512 Cedar Springs Road
3/22/2017: A law enforcement agency reached out to the TABC with allegations that Concrete Cowboy had failed to appropriately report a breach of the peace.
It'll come as no surprise to people who frequent bars that their atmosphere often encourages disturbances. Sometimes it's just people getting too loud as they get progressively drunker, but other times things get violent. Fists are swung, weapons are waved, and a good time becomes a very bad one in a matter of minutes.
In the course of investigating the TABC learned that the breach of the peace in question actually happened several months prior, in November of 2016. The agency took punitive action against Concrete Cowboy in the form of a "civil penalty," which is usually a fine.
5/09/2017: A complaint filed by a source identified only as "Other" alleged that the Dallas location sold or served alcohol to an intoxicated person.
Investigators looked into the charge for several months, but in the end were apparently unable to find sufficient evidence to support the allegations. The case was closed on 8/04/2017 without any dispositive action taken against Concrete Cowboy.
Austin - 719 W 6th Street
2/24/2016: Acting on a complaint from a citizen, the TABC investigated the Austin location of Concrete Cowboy for allegations of possessing or permitting the possession of drugs on the premises, as well as serving alcohol to an intoxicated person.
It probably goes without saying that bars are responsible for notifying authorities if they see drugs in possession or use on their premises, the same as any other store or establishment. A failure to do so is a serious offense, but in this instance the TABC did not find sufficient evidence of drug use or possession to take any punitive action.
However, investigators did determine that the bar had over-served an intoxicated person, leading them to issue this location a civil penalty.
4/05/2016: Just a couple of months after the previous complaint, a citizen alerted the TABC claiming that this location engaged in several violations of the Alcoholic Beverage Code. The agency's report includes allegations that the bar sold or served alcohol to an intoxicated person, an employee (called "Licensee/Permittee" on the report) was supposedly drunk during business hours, and that the staff practiced "refilling," or pouring more alcohol into empty bottles for re-use.
That's quite a trifecta of naughty behavior, but TABC investigators either didn't find much to go on or located evidence that the claims were false, because the case was closed a short time later on 4/25/2016 without any dispositive action taken against the bar.
8/14/2017: A citizen's call to the TABC led the agency to investigate Concrete Cowboy for allegations of serving alcohol to a minor and selling/serving alcohol to an intoxicated person.
The two may be related in some way or different events witnessed by the citizen that night; the report isn't clear. Whichever way it happened, though, the TABC's investigators were unable to find enough evidence to corroborate either accusation. The case was closed without disposition on 10/14/2017.
Frisco - 3685 The Star Boulevard Suite 210
11/06/2017: A law enforcement agency alerted the TABC that the Frisco location allegedly sold or served alcohol to an intoxicated person.
Many of these enforcement allegations seem to stem from catching highly intoxicated people either behind the wheel or stumbling about in public places. They tip off the TABC about the last place they believed the affected person was drinking, and the agency acts on the tip by trying to determine if the establishment violated the law. Many times it's difficult to locate enough proof that a given establishment over-served the defendant, and other times the drunk person doesn't even correctly remember which bar was the most recent. These complications mean sometimes the TABC comes up empty-handed even if law enforcement is responsible for the original complaint.
This seems to be one such occasion, as the complaint ticket was closed without dispositive action taken on 1/05/2018.
12/11/2017: A source listed as "Other" alerted the TABC that Frisco's Concrete Cowboy was allegedly engaging in promotional practices that violated TABC regulations.
Such an infraction is listed in official TABC terms as "Place or Manner, On Premises Promotions." According to the official TABC rules:
This rule is adopted to prohibit those practices by on-premise establishments that are reasonably calculated to result in excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages by consumers. Such practices constitute a manner of operation contrary to the public welfare, health and safety of the people.
Basically, the bar was accused of putting on a drink special that was almost guaranteed to get people over-intoxicated--think "Nickel Shots Night at McGillicutty's" kind of stuff. The TABC investigated the allegations, but seems to have concluded either that there was insufficient evidence or that no violation occurred. The complaint was closed on 1/22/2018 without further action taken.
1/10/2018: A law enforcement agency alleged to the TABC that this location sold alcohol to a minor, as well as claiming the bar sold alcohol to an intoxicated person and also failed to report a breach of the peace.
That's quite a trifecta of issues to report all at once. Given that they were all included in a single complaint by the police, either they all related to a single overall incident or the cops just had a very busy night.
After investigating the incidents they learned of from law enforcement, the TABC seem to have confirmed only that the establishment sold alcohol to an intoxicated person. While this is a serious offense, the agency does not appear to have taken dispositive action against Concrete Cowboy. The infraction was noted in the case file but the case was closed without any documented punishments on 2/03/2018.
Houston - 5317 Washington Avenue Suite B
12/16/2016: A concerned citizen reached out to the TABC to report that the Houston location of Concrete Cowboy allegedly served or sold alcohol to an already-intoxicated party.
After investigating the claim of over-service, TABC agents seem to have confirmed that someone was in fact over-served by the bar. Despite the apparent confirmation of the charge, the TABC only noted their findings on the case file and closed it on 1/15/2017 without any further action being taken against Concrete Cowboy.
1/29/2017: A law enforcement agency alerted the TABC to possible violations. According to the complaint file, police alerted the agency that this location sold or served alcohol to an intoxicated person, and also that the bar was serving alcohol during prohibited hours.
If a bar's going to stay open beyond 2 a.m. (when they must close by law in Texas), there's a possibility that the same bar is also willing to over-serve the people who stay past closing time. I'm not accusing Concrete Cowboy of anything; I've just seen a lot of DWI mugshots of people who drank until the last minute at a bar. Given how drunk they are by 2 a.m., letting them keep going beyond that time seems like an invitation for trouble.
After investigating the information provided by law enforcement, TABC officials seem not to have found enough evidence to confirm any infractions took place. The agency closed the case file without taking any dispositive action.
6/13/2017: Law enforcement informed the TABC of a potential breach of the peace at this location.
After investigating the claim, TABC agents did not find enough evidence of a breach to pursue further action against Concrete Cowboy. The case was closed on 7/22/2017 without disposition.
2/22/2018: A law enforcement agency reported a potential violation to the TABC. According to the complaint file, Concrete Cowboy allegedly sold or served alcohol to an intoxicated person.
Despite the original complaint coming from law enforcement officials, TABC agents do not seem to have found enough evidence to take further action against the bar. The case was closed without disposition on 4/17/2018.
Texas Law Allows Victims to Sue Negligent Alcohol Providers
If you would like to learn more about Texas Dram Shop / liquor liability law, we encourage you to look over our comprehensive page on the subject.