The former owner of Wings Cafe — a nightclub where three people were killed in 2014 — wants to turn the club into a sports bar, promising to reshape the image of a place that’s been shut down the last couple of years.
Young K. “Tom” Kim said he’s trying to see if a family member or friend will reopen the 2822 Bloomfield Drive business after it was closed for two years following a threat to revoke the alcohol license by Macon-Bibb County officials. Several county leaders said Monday that they’ll keep an open mind on whether to support a repurposed business, although the worries of neighbors and those affected by the shootings still need to be calmed.
At age 64, Kim said he is no longer interested in running a business full time. That’s why he’ll find someone else that could run a sports-themed bar that would not attract some of the same clientele that frequented Wings Cafe.
The Dec. 12, 2014, shootout at the club left three people dead and others wounded. Several years earlier, another deadly incident took place outside the club when a 35-year-old was shot multiple times.
“We don’t want no more clubs,” Kim said Monday. “We just want a sports bar with food and TVs (for) people to watch the Sunday football.”
Kim reached an agreement with the County Commission in January 2015 to have Wings Cafe shut down for at least two years before he could reapply for an alcohol license. Kim has continued to pay property taxes for the site and is now remodeling the building with hopes to open up the restaurant in January.
He said he understands some people’s concerns and plans to increase the safety by also improving security measures.
“I’m trying to build the community and good relationships,” said Kim, who has lived in Macon for 26 years. “I love the United States. I love Macon, Georgia. A lot of young folks want to work but can’t find a job.”
Commissioners Al Tillman and Virgil Watkins sponsored a resolution to have a court determine the fate of Wings Cafe’s alcohol license in 2015 before the agreement with Kim was brokered.
Tillman recently reached out to Kim after hearing from people about remodeling taking place at the building. Tillman has asked Kim to meet with residents around the west Macon community.
“I thought it would be good if he would meet with neighborhoods associations that would be concerned and wouldn’t want him to open in the same capacity,” Tillman said.
Tillman said that he would keep an open mind about whether to vote in favor of any license, but that he needs to see some contrition from Kim.
“Mr. Kim probably needs to be more sensitive to people shot and killed at his establishment,” he said.
Watkins said he’s slightly hesitant about reissuing a license to someone associated with Kim, but “if he’s serious about making changes and have more security” then county officials will have to give it honest consideration.
The County Commission signs off on alcohol licenses after they have undergone a review by the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office and Macon-Bibb County.
“If (Kim is) sincere and seems like he’ll change the type of establishment, we’ll look at it on the merits and see where it goes,” Sheriff David Davis said. “Obviously the residents’ (opinions) will go a long way into whether they want it in their neighborhood.”