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End may be near for Richard's Bar and Grille in Mt. Pleasant after losing liquor license

(WCIV)

Richard’s Bar and Grill in Mount Pleasant has avoided shut down for years, but not anymore. The State Department of Revenue revoked the bar's liquor license on October 5.

On Thursday, the business was padlocked and empty. There was also a tax delinquency notice taped to a window out front. The building is up for public auction on November 5, unless $5,654.92 in back taxes is paid to Charleston County.

The owner, Richard Ruth, is known for breaking the rules and an unapologetic attitude. The 79-year-old does not mince words.

“I just tell it like it is. I don’t give a damn if you like me,” he said during an interview on October 3. “I'm going to stay open in the State of South Carolina. God, nobody is going to close this bar down.”

Its future has been in limbo after illegal gambling machines were found inside the establishment in 2017 and then again in July. Ruth is facing seven misdemeanor gambling charges.

“You'll hear ‘Richard's is closing’ and people will just come like they're coming for the second coming (of Christ),” said Lori Turner, a longtime patron. “Or you'll hear ‘Is Richard's closing? I heard they were closing’ and then they're still open.”

The bar was infamous for selling miniature bottles of liquor and not discouraged patron from smoking inside. It’s part of the draw for longtime regulars who feel it’s the last true dive bar in the area.

“I've been here when there was a chicken on the bar one time,” said Kevin Rosier, who visited the bar on October 3. “They've broken rules here and they've done it for years and the sheer attitude is why we love it so much.”

Ruth tried to stop the state from revoking his liquor license, but the Revenue Department rejected his request in August. Two other licenses were also revoked, one allowing the sale of beer and wine and another allowing the sale of alcohol on Sunday.

It’s hard to know if this is the end for Richard’s, but it would be hard to bounce back. Ruth cannot apply for another liquor license for five years.

Loyal customers like Rosier worry this will truly be the last call.

“This is a Mount Pleasant institution, if it goes away, it will be the death of the old Mount Pleasant,” Rosier said.

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