Spencer law enforcement officials in court documents claim surveillance footage shows Southside Grill employees selling alcohol to people under the legal age, underage drinking and incidents of public indecent exposure.
Southside Grill is being investigated by the Clay County Sheriff’s Office in connection to a double-fatality accident near Dickens in April. A warrant applied for by the Spencer Police Department and granted by a judge on May 30 suggests Spencer police have begun their own investigation.
This is the first time since the Spencer City Council denied Southside Grill’s liquor license renewal on June 4 that authorities have mentioned allegations of indecent exposure by the establishment’s employees.
The sheriff’s office has been in possession of surveillance footage from Southside Grill as it conducts its investigation.
In an affidavit for the SPD warrant, investigator Shilo Brevik asked the court to allow the police department to review the footage. He wrote that he had probable cause to believe the video would show Southside Grill employees serving alcohol to people under the legal age and dancers exposing their nipples in violation of Iowa code.
Authorities say tape shows dancers improperly exposed
Southside Grill markets itself as a “gentlemen’s steakhouse” and features seminude entertainers. Iowa code regarding public indecent exposure states establishments like Southside Grill cannot allow their employees to expose their nipples or genitals.
However, the SPD warrant cites a Clay County Sheriff’s office report stating the surveillance shows two dancers did not have their nipples covered on two separate occasions.
Southside Grill owner Chris Burg has said that the establishment’s dancers use nail polish to cover their nipples. He and city officials disagree on whether that is proper coverage.
“He’s always maintained that nail polish makes it legal,” City Attorney Don Hemphill told the Signal earlier this month. “We disagree.”
Authorities have not announced charges related to the indecent exposure allegations.
Underage drinking investigations
Brevik stated in his SPD search warrant affidavit that video reviewed by the sheriff’s office showed bar employees had served the men who died in the crash.
The sheriff’s office has charged Southside Grill employee Jacoba Knight with serving alcohol to the driver in the April accident, Alfonso Adrian Maldonado, of Graettinger, who died of his injuries after the accident.
A passenger and owner of the car, Tephonte Alan Smith, 21, of Estherville, died at the scene of the accident.
In a news release, the sheriff’s office stated Knight also faces charges of failing to exercise reasonable care to determine whether Maldonado was under the legal age.
In addition to charges relating to Maldonado, Knight also faces a charge of serving alcohol to another person under the legal age, 18-year-old Mackenzie Kamstra.
In the SPD search warrant affidavit, Brevik said Kamstra, a dancer at the establishment, told him on May 28 over the phone that she would drink during her shifts to “cut loose.”
The sheriff’s office has said other charges in the case are pending.
Liquor license denial
The Spencer City Council denied Southside Grill’s liquor license renewal on June 4. The council cited evidence it had served to minors, served to intoxicated people and that its dancers had improperly exposed their breasts.
Burg has taken steps toward legal action against the city.
Southside Grill can continue to serve alcohol during an appeal to the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division.