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Hogan's Irish Bar family can remove property from closed Cape Canaveral pub, judge says

Hogan's Irish Bar on North Atlantic Avenue in Cape Canaveral. (Photo: Malcolm Denemark/Florida Today)
Hogan's Irish Bar on North Atlantic Avenue in Cape Canaveral. (Photo: Malcolm Denemark/Florida Today) (Florida Today 2019)

MELBOURNE, Fla. – The family that operated Hogan's Irish Bar may soon be allowed to re-enter the pub to remove inventory, equipment and possessions — some of which were imported from Ireland.

On Feb. 19, property owner Vincent Keenan shut down the North Atlantic Avenue tavern, triggering a social media uproar. Pub founder Patrick Hogan says he was wrongfully evicted, while Keenan says he fired an under-performing employee, according to News 6 partner Florida Today.

Keenan has not let the Hogans return to the site since the closure. On Feb. 21, Hogan requested an emergency temporary injunction to retrieve personal property and fixtures. An agreement was struck during a Wednesday hearing at the Melbourne Courthouse.

“They can have the bar. They can have everything in the building. I want an empty building," Keenan testified on the witness stand.

“They can take the sinks. I wish they’d take everything. Let’s make it that they take everything off the property. Because I don’t want to be left with four or five dumpsters of garbage — which is what I have now," Keenan said.

"Everything off the property, except the concrete building and the air conditioners and the plumbing attached," he said.

What's more, Keenan testified that he does not want the liquor from Hogan’s Irish Bar. Hogan's lawyer, Joseph Naberhaus, proposed that the Hogans remove the liquor and store it at a neutral location after receiving guidance from the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

Naberhaus said he and Keenan's lawyer, Howard Swerbilow, will likely work on a draft order in the coming days that details how to inventory and remove items from the former pub. Brevard Circuit Judge George B. Turner must approve the order. 

Keenan and the Hogan family declined comment after Wednesday's hearing. Litigation continues: Hogan and his company, Foghill, LLC, are suing Keenan and his company, Vincent Keenan Realtors, seeking damages exceeding $15,000. No upcoming court dates have been set.

On the witness stand, Hogan said he spent $10,000 on the Hogan's Irish Pub bar counter, and he shipped other furnishings over from Ireland.

“There was a lot of pub memorabilia, antiques, valuables, stuff like that. Some of it was 200 years old from our family business back in Ireland," Hogan said.

Keenan testified that he has sold the liquor license. He is advertising the shuttered pub for lease, and he said he has received inquiries from Hertz, Panera Bread and Starbucks — but he cannot re-let the site in its current condition.

Wednesday's hearing was scheduled to last one hour. After more than 90 minutes — with much debate centering on details of documented agreements between Hogan and Keenan — Turner redirected the hearing's focus.

“I can’t attach ownership. I can protect the property from being sold or encumbered or destroyed until a final determination is made. That’s why we’re here. And that’s the only reason why we’re here," Turner told the lawyers.

"I can’t give you the full half-a-day or four hours that you would need to have a full evidentiary hearing if you want to attach ownership. I’m not here for that. I’m only here to preserve the property," he said.

Afterward, the agreement was reached within about 10 minutes.

On behalf of his family, Hogan thanked customers for their support the past two weeks in a Sunday post on the shuttered pub's Facebook page.

"We hope to find a new location for Hogan’s Irish Bar in the near future and re-create the pub which was such a special place for my family and many in our community," the post stated.