The St. Paul City Council did a rare thing Wednesday and revoked the license of a Frogtown bar.
The Moonlight Magic bar, which has been a trouble spot in recent years, will have to close its doors at Western and Thomas avenues. It's unlikely that another saloon will open there: a new liquor license can't be issued for the address for at least 15 years and the building sits across from an elementary school.
The 7-0 decision came despite pleas from supporters during a public hearing Wednesday and an administrative law judge's recommendation to impose a fine and suspension. The last time the city shut down a bar was in 2007.
"Some really bad stuff has happened here," said Council Member Melvin Carter, whose ward includes Frogtown. "The penalty of revocation is indeed appropriate."
The bar had its liquor license suspended twice, for a total of 60 days, for alleged violations last year. A beating death and shootings happened outside Moonlight in 2009.
Additional license violations, including serving a minor, occurred last December, a few months after the bar reopened after its suspensions.
Fue Thao, attorney for owner Moua Yang, urged the council to take the administrative law judge's advice. He called a fine and suspension reasonable. Revoking the license, he said, would hurt the owner's family financially and rob the neighborhood of a gathering place.
Thao said Yang has paid his fines and dealt with the suspensions, as well as taken steps to improve security and put new policies in place.
Taking away the license would be taking away "a piece of the community," Thao said.
For the last seven months or so, Wilebski's Blues Saloon has shared the Moonlight's liquor license and operated upstairs. Ted Wilebski had operated his bar in the building from the 1970s to the 1990s. He is moving the Blues Saloon to the former Club Cancun, near Rice Street and Larpenteur Avenue.
Wilebski said during Wednesday's hearing that he thought Moonlight could be successful and offered his help.
But the council, which has taken a hard line on problem behavior at bars in recent years, decided to go through with the revocation because of multiple violations in a short time frame.
Thao declined to comment after the vote.
"I think it's terrible," Wilebski said. "That building is historic."
The bar -- built in 1890, according to Ramsey County records -- opened as a neighborhood tavern and dance hall. It operated under various names over the years and featured such notable musicians as John Lee Hooker and Etta James.
Chris Havens • 612-673-4148