A new restaurant and bar is billed as “opening soon” in downtown Phoenix, but the lights are off, the doors are shut, and one of the owners was whisked back to jail last month. What’s happening at The Monocle a minor mystery. It’s not the usual fanfare that heralds a new hip place, another pin in the Google map that says Phoenix really has arrived as the fifth-largest U.S. city in deed and not just in size. No, this time, the owners have no liquor license, no application for one, and are disqualified from getting one because of the felony conviction for sexual conduct with a minor hanging over one owner’s head.
The Arizona Department of Liquor Licenses and Control has no license application file from The Monocle. Nor is there any record of valid license tied to it, its address, or either of its owners listed in state business filings.
One of those owners, Arthur John Bachelier, pleaded guilty in October 2013 to felony charges of sex abuse, child abuse, and sexual conduct with a minor, according to Maricopa County Superior Court documents. That landed the former nurse and deeply devout Christian in prison in Florence for 19 months.
That, according to state law, means The Monocle’s owners are disqualified from getting a liquor permit. “No license shall be issued to or renewed for any person who, within five years before application, has been convicted of a felony,” the relevant statute says.
When asked, state and local liquor police could offer little more than a shrug. “At this point, it’s all hypothetical to us, until we get an application,” said Jeffery Trillo, the department’s assistant director of licensing and administration.
The liquor license task force in Phoenix also was unaware of The Monocle. All that is on file with the state and the city is an inactive license with the previous bar at 816 North Third Street, The Roosevelt Tavern, which has been closed since 2012.
And yet, The Monocle has been posting photos on Facebook for six weeks showing progress of the makeover. The polished hardwood floors, the new lawn, the shiny stainless-steel beer taps all boast of an imminent opening of the business in the the historic-designated Farish House, a Colonial Revival-style brick home with Queen Anne details, and one of a dozen old houses from before 1910.
“The Monocle is an American-fusion full-scale restaurant and bar located in the heart of downtown Phoenix. Our vintage atmosphere is inspired by the 1900s historic house we have made our home. We are led by a team that is passionate about food, beer, arts, and people. We strive to embody the spirit of adventure, exploration, and progress,” the website says.
Wednesday, a “coming soon” banner draped the wrought-iron fence, but the place was shut and quiet, not the frenzy of activity you might expect before a big launch. As Trillo said after he sent state investigators to the establishment, “the place is buttoned up tight. It looks vacant.” License holders have to demonstrate they are “capable, qualified, and reliable” to sell alcohol.
In 2013, Bachelier admitted in court that he fondled and forced intercourse and oral sex on his underage live-in sister-in-law. The girl told police her abuse occurred a few times a month in different houses, starting when she was 12 and continuing for six years, according to court records. His guilty plea didn’t just earn him a trip to Florence.
The judge ordered Bachelier to register as a sex offender, submit to a DNA sample, wear a GPS tracking device, and be placed on probation for life. It was his only criminal conviction in Arizona. He was 29. There is no record that his listed partner has any criminal record.
Phoenix New Times repeatedly tried to reach Bachelier, by sending a Facebook message to The Monocle's page, calling listed phone numbers, and contacting attorneys who have represented him. He was not at the restaurant site, either. He could not be reached for comment.
He did talk to the Arizona Republic, which reported that Bachelier said the ownership filing was an error, that he was just the chef.
“That was an original filing and unfortunately there was an error in the filing,” Bachelier told the Republic. “Someone misunderstood how the paperwork was supposed to be filed … We had someone on behalf of us doing all of our paperwork for us.”
He told the Republic that a man named Gerald Lee Logan III was the actual owner.
New Times previously tried to contact Logan with no response.
On May 18, one week after The Monocle showed off the freshly sanded floors on its Facebook page, a probation officer wrote an unflattering report about Bachelier’s progress for the court. “This officer has reason to believe that the defendant has failed to comply with (several) terms of probation,” Adult Probation Officer Lytyson Sam wrote.
The day before, Bachelier tampered with his electronic monitoring device and violated his probation terms by having alcohol on him, Sam told the court. He also violated restrictions on internet access by getting a smartphone without prior approval. Not noted in the report: The Monocle website is registered to Bachelier.
In 2016, he failed to show up for sex offender counseling, the court document alleged. As a result, the probation department asked the court to revoke probation and to place a GPS on Bachelier, who turned 32 earlier this month. A judge agreed. Probation officers booked Bachelier into county jail, and released him the next day, according to the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office. He is scheduled back in court next week to answer the new charges.
The old ones, the ones that landed him in it, were shocking. His sister-in-law told police he would sneak into her bedroom and look down her nightshirt when she pretended to sleep, court records showed. His wife's sister told police that he'd rub her sister's breasts, rub his penis against her, put his fingers inside her, get oral sex and force himself into her anus, according to a court record used to determine the appropriate sentence.
Bachelier’s wife left him. But she could not bring herself to divorce him. “I don’t plan on divorcing him. I believe God can change him. I pray endlessly for him and especially for his heart to change. I still love him and that will never go away. Even though I’ve prayed that it would go away, it never does,” she wrote a relative, who submitted it to the sentencing judge to plead for mercy.
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She was even clearer with the judge in her own letter. “In the years I have known Arthur, he has never physically harmed me or forced me in any way. When I was a teenager, I made a vow to God that I would not have sex before marriage. Arthur respected me and that vow,” she wrote. God played a prominent role in the 20 pages of character references from family members, friends, and ministers. They all described Bachelier as a godly man, a good husband and father and a protector of people who were hurting or vulnerable.
His sister told the judge that she was herself a sex crime victim and would never write a letter of support if she thought he was a predator. Instead, she wrote, "My brother has always and always will be my knight in shining armor," adding he saved her from her molester. In a letter to his own family, Bachelier admitted to “violating God’s will” and promised, “I refuse to live in disobedience to Him any longer.”
As Bachelier returns to the criminal justice system, the Monocle awaits and invites patrons. It wrote on its webpage: “We are excited to have you in — to be our friends, to share a meal, to have a beer. Come be a part of the conversation, and become one of The Monocle family.”