A downtown legacy ended Saturday as By George dance club shut its doors after 25 years.

The closing comes just before the bar's seven-day suspension for violations related to underage drinking was scheduled to begin. The suspension would have been in effect March 1 through 8.

Club owner Dave Tye said the bar was forced to close when he lost his lease on the property. Tye did not comment on the upcoming suspension. Property owner Westlake Hardware, based in Lenexa, Kan., could not be reached for comment.

Despite the club's reputation as a hot spot for the under-21 crowd, doorman Nick Schulte said he and his co-workers never knowingly admit a minor into the bar and said the shut-down has nothing to do with underage drinking.

"Everyone who walks through the doors has an ID that says they are 21," he said.

"The police have nothing to do with it," doorman Drew Gurley said. "They come to George's just like any other bar. We haven't had much trouble this year."

Law enforcement officials express a different opinion.

"It's quite a landmark," said Keith Fuller, state supervisor for the Missouri Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Control. "They have a history of violations."

Fuller confirmed By George's approaching suspension. He said that the establishment also served suspensions for similar reasons in February 2001 and March 2000.

"It's a series of violations," said Columbia Police Capt. Marvin McCrary. Although By George's does hold a valid city liquor license, McCrary said, "they have always had lots of problems, and continue to have those problems even after the police visit. That is not true at other bars in the city."

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