Plans to reopen Germantown bar after owner’s shooting death broached at community meeting

 The owner of this shuttered Germantown bar was fatally shot in West Oak Lane. A neighboring business owner wants to reopen the establishment. (Matthew Grady/for NewsWorks)

The owner of this shuttered Germantown bar was fatally shot in West Oak Lane. A neighboring business owner wants to reopen the establishment. (Matthew Grady/for NewsWorks)

A Southwest Germantown bar is getting new life months after its former owner was fatally shot.

Bunse Dang is in the process of purchasing the property once known as the Welton Wayne Sports Bar and Restaurant, a corner property located at Wayne Ave. and Logan St.

At a recent meeting of the SoLo/Germantown Civic Association, Dang explained that he plans to reopen the bar, which has been shuttered since its former owner was fatally shot in West Oak Lane earlier this year.

He plans to permit take-out beer, along with serving take-out style fare such as wings and Chinese food. The hours of operation would be 10 a.m. to 2 a.m.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

Dang is the current proprietor of HD Nail Salon and Spa, located a few doors away on Wayne Avenue. He would be partnering in the bar with his wife, with whom he shares other business ventures.

Although he said he has only been inside the establishment a handful of times, Dang has no plans at present to modify the interior. Only minimal cosmetic changes would be made to the outside, he said.

While settlement has not yet occurred, Bunse expects this to occur within the next two months, contingent on approval from the state’s Liquor Control Board.

Crime and ownership

The future of the property became uncertain when its owner died after being shot in West Oak Lane.

Around 5:15 a.m. on March 27, police found a man shot through the side of the chest and shoulder in a rear alleyway along the 6800 block of Ogontz Ave.

The victim was subsequently identified as 49-year-old Welton Clark of Cheltenham, who medics pronounced dead at the scene.

Around the same time, a 50-year-old man arrived at nearby Albert Einstein Medical Center with a gunshot wound to the leg, police said.

There, he told police he had been shot in the same alleyway. He was reported to be in stable condition at the time. Police did not provide a motive for the shootings.

Adding insult to fatality

According to city records, Clark acquired the property for $100,000 in 2008.

While a police source described Clark as being “well-known” to local law enforcement, a search of court documents revealed no criminal record.

Then, sometime between April 7 and June 19, an unknown burglar (or burglars) kicked in a rear door of the bar, entered the building and removed $5,000 in cash from the ATM, $10,000 worth of alcoholic beverages and an electronic-security system, according to police reports.

Investigators noted that because of the removal of the security system, the burglary had little solvability.

Last week, a police spokesperson reported no arrests in Clark’s murder, but said the case remains under active investigation.

Local reaction to proposal

Residents have expressed a variety of concerns related to the pending transaction.

Community members noted that since the bar closed, the immediate area’s quality-of-life has improved greatly, with decreased incidents of public drunken behavior, urinating, loitering, gambling, drug use/dealing, trash, litter and loud noise.

Happy Hollow Playground, located opposite the bar, is said to be experiencing less “spill-over” of these issues, according to neighbors.

They also noted that school-aged children do not have to contend with daydrinking riff raff while walking to and from Fitler Academics Plus School, located fewer than two blocks away.

As for the bar itself, community members want to see dumpsters stored properly and have regular litter clean-ups. An alley located behind the bar, currently used as an ad-hoc outdoor lounge, would also need to be addressed.

Would-be owner, council office responds

Asked to responds on these concerns, Dang said that he plans to implement stricter policies about serving visibly intoxicated customers and planned to clean the area around the bar everyday.

Ray Jones, spokesperson for Eighth District City Councilwoman Cindy Bass, said the office will be sending a letter to the state Liquor Control Board explaining their own concerns about a bar opening up across from the Happy Hollow playground.

Jones said the letter will note that the site has hosted nuisance bars in the past.

“We’re aware of the issue,” he said, “and we’ve sent a letter expressing our sincere concern about that area where bars have been problematic.”

On the brightside…

Despite these apprehensions, neighbors are optimistic about Dang’s vision for the bar.

Allison Weiss, who helms the Wayne Avenue Merchant Association, said that Dang has been a good custodian of his current enterprise, observing that no complaints have been raised against him.

Moreover, she said that he agreed to the various requests from community members.

While noting that the state will have the ultimate say in whether the bar ultimately opens, Weiss said, “We’re working together to make it the nicest possible experience.”

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal