Fort Worth

Should a motorcycle shop serve beer? Residents in this Fort Worth neighborhood say no

A vintage motorcycle shop looking to sell beer to motorsports fans has an east Fort Worth neighborhood worried, but the owner says there’s nothing to be concerned about.

Lovekraft Motor Werks owner Dominic Velasquez wants to convert part of the shop at 2507 La Salle into a bar with a small stage. The venue would cater to a niche group of motor heads interested in watching F1, MotoGP, IndyCar and other motorsports not typically available through a standard TV package or at a sports bar.

“We’re really not doing anything different than what we’ve always been doing,” Velasquez said, noting the shop has hosted rallies and other motorcycle gatherings.

But United Riverside residents are concerned about the makeup of the neighborhood.

The shop is just down the street from Martin House Brewing Company in an area where a strip of commercial properties run along the river to the west of South Sylvania Avenue. On the east side of the street, the neighborhood is largely residential.

Phyllis Allen, Fort Worth Councilwoman Kelly Allen Gray’s sister, said the neighborhood is worried about parking and traffic. She and others, including the councilwoman, filed a protest with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission over Velasquez’s request for a liquor license.

Allen said residents are worried about people parking on the residential streets to the east, clogging traffic for the neighborhood.

“It’s less about gentrification and more about this spot not being conducive to his business plan,” Allen said.

The Fort Worth City Council on Tuesday approved a resolution opposing the Lovekraft booze license.

Velasquez filed for a permit allowing beer and wine sales until 12 a.m. on weeknights and 1 a.m. on Saturdays in mid-2018, he said. The bar would only be open on Fridays and Saturdays.

The city council’s resolution alone doesn’t prevent Velasquez from receiving a license. With a protest, the TABC can request a hearing in front of a state Administrative Court judge who will rule on the matter in March.

Gray, when asked about the resolution, said she wanted to let it stand without comment.

“We don’t want to taint the hearing,” she said.

Velasquez said he attempted to reach Gray several times but wasn’t successful. He met with the United Riverside Neighborhood Association about his plan and said he understood their parking concerns.

However, he remains confident his lot will have adequate space. The city’s zoning department had already approved the necessary permits to begin renovating some of the shop space into a small bar, he said.

With a maximum capacity of 99, Velasquez said large crowds would be rare.

“It’s not like we’re going to have a lot of people coming over like the brewery up the street,” he said.

Councilman Cary Moon, the only no vote on the resolution, challenged it by saying it wasn’t the city’s place to challenge a liquor license if the establishment passed zoning requirements. The city rarely weighs into liquor license debates.

Fort Worth’s downtown has grown beyond the central business district to include development on West Seventh and Magnolia, he said, and there are opportunities to grow to the east.

“If the issue is parking, let’s find parking. If the issue is connectivity, let’s build sidewalks,” he said.

The shop opened in 1972 specializing in vintage European bikes, particularly BMWs, as Perry’s Motorcycle and Sidecars. Velasquez works on bikes dating to 1923. A 1932 BMW R12 is the oldest currently in the shop, he said.

When Perry Bushong died in 2017, Velasquez took over the business and now he wants to broaden the business to include the motorsports-themed bar.

“With Circuit of the Americas down in Austin I think we can be proud of motorsports here, but it’s not really something you can watch anywhere,” he said. “We just want to be the place.”

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Luke Ranker covers the intersection of people and government focused on Fort Worth and Tarrant County. He came to Texas from the plains of Kansas, where he wrote about a lot, including government, crime and courts in Topeka. He survived a single winter in Pennsylvania as a breaking news reporter. He can be reached at 817-390-7747 or lranker@star-telegram.com.
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