The Background You Need If You Are Considering a Dram Shop Case against Pete's Dueling Piano Bar
My firm has been holding bad bars accountable for recklessly over-serving alcohol for over thirty years. In that time, we have handled more cases of this kind than anyone else in the state. One thing my experience as a dram shop attorney has taught me is that alcohol over-service is not an isolated problem. Most people would be shocked if they knew how often bars are investigated on suspicion of violating state liquor laws. A goal of mine is to increase the public's awareness of the subject. One way I do this is by spending a portion of my time investigating Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission complaint records and reporting what I find here on my website. If you think you may have a dram shop (liquor liability) claim and are interested in learning about how to proceed, please call me at (855) 326-0000.
Pete's Dueling Piano Bar began in Austin, Texas, as a one-man show in 1992. It now boasts five different locations, with four in Texas and one in Illinois. As is typical for dueling piano bars, a huge part of the draw lies in the high-energy renditions of popular songs played by two pianists who share the stage and often involve the audience in their performances.
Businesses that serve alcohol have a legal obligation to not allow their patrons to have too much to drink, so they don't go out and cause accidents. Almost every bar I have sued for playing a part in a wrongful death or injury had a history of TABC investigations, which is why I pay close attention to their complaint records. Even if an accident hasn't happened yet, a long list of complaints could point to a future disaster in the making.
Out of the four Pete's Dueling Piano Bar locations in Texas, the TABC investigated the Addison and Houston locations a combined total of nine times in three years. For a bit of perspective, out the hundreds of bars that I sued over the last 30 years, only a handful had more complaints over such a short period of time.
Before I proceed, I want to point out that an investigation is not proof that the bar question violated any laws. When authorities carry out an investigation, it only means they think the evidence deserves a closer look. However, without a court conviction, we must always presume that the establishment is innocent. A bar that is not convicted of any wrongdoing could be innocent, or the authorities just might not have been able to prove that a violation took place. What follows is a list of recent TABC inquiries into Pete's Dueling Piano Bar.
Pete's Dueling Piano Bar Locations Investigated by TABC between 2016 and 2019
Houston - 1201 Fannin Street Suite 310
A staff member placed the first complaint on 03/08/2016, alleging that the bar was over-serving. Though the source of the complaint might seem odd, the law says that workers have to report such activity when they see it.
TABC looked into the matter, but after just a week of investigation it had already decided to close the case due to a lack of evidence on 03/15/2016.
On 10/21/2016, staff submitted another complaint with TABC, once more claiming over-service. Like in the previous investigation, authorities could find no proof capable of standing up in court. As a result, they ended their efforts on 12/20/2016.
On the same day the previous investigation ended, a staff member filed a third complaint for the alleged sale of alcohol to a drunk customer.
TABC conducted a three-month investigation but could not find sufficient evidence to obtain a court conviction. On 03/07/2017, the case concluded without further action.
A fourth investigation began on 03/07/202017. This time, authorities were able to establish that an administrative violation had occurred. Despite finding that the bar violated the law, they received no punishment, and the case terminated on 04/25/2017.
On 04/13/2017, staff filed a report alleging that a breach of the peace (usually a fight) had occurred.
The investigation was quite short, lasting only 12 days (the average is at least a month, if not two). Whether due to the speed of the investigation or a simple lack of evidence, the authorities could not uncover sufficient proof. On 04/25/2017, TABC ended their efforts.
TABC received a staff complaint on 11/14/2017 that alleged more over-serving had occurred.
This type of complaint is exceptionally difficult to prove in the absence of video footage, and from the record details, it seems none was available. Authorities investigated but found nothing they could use in court, so they dropped the case on 11/20/2017.
The bar made it all the way through 2018 without a complaint, but by 2019, it got a two-in-one. A staff member complained to TABC about an alleged breach of the peace and over-selling of alcohol to drunk patrons on 1/29/2019.
The investigation could not substantiate either of these charges, so on 04/10/2019, authorities decided to end the inquiry.
Addison - 4980 Belt Line Road Suite 200 2nd Floor
On 04/07/2016, an unnamed source alleged that staff at this location sold alcohol to an intoxicated patron.
The TABC's investigation into the matter turned up sufficient evidence for a citation. In spite of having proof of wrongdoing, the authorities handed down no punishment, closing the investigation on 06/08/2016.
A citizen complaint to TABC on 01/05/2019 claimed that a drunk customer received alcohol. Authorities followed up with an inquiry into the matter.
After nearly two months of investigation, TABC found no evidence of a violation and ended their efforts on 03/06/2019.
Texas Law Says Accident Victims Can Sue Bad Bars
If you would like to learn more about Texas dram shop law (i.e. lawsuits against bars who play a role in injurious or fatal accidents), please visit our Texas Dram Shop Law Info Page.