LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A well-known downtown Louisville bar re-opened Wednesday night with protesters outside.
The Haymarket Whiskey Bar closed abruptly two weeks ago because of social media outrage after the owner was targeted by online rape allegations.
The owner is suing his accusers and maintaining his innocence.
Before the allegations against its owner, Haymarket Whiskey Bar was open seven days and nights a week.
The doors reopened Wednesday night after 15 days, as the owner fights to protect his reputation and keep his business afloat.
The graphic allegations of sexual assault against the owner were posted by a Facebook user going by the name Westley Moore, who used the hashtag #metoo.
Moore posted accusations that Haymarket Whiskey Bar owner Matthew Landan assaulted her in 2013. Subsequent posts from others claimed she was not his only victim. But the allegations so far have resulted in no civil or criminal actions.
Landan's attorney told me he denies all allegations of illegal or inappropriate conduct.
"We're going to review all the information, give him some advice and then he's going to make the decisions," Attorney Andrew Horne said. "And part of it, we also have to see how this develops. Is this something that cools down and it looks like he can reopen and progress? And also given the nature of the allegations, are there other steps to be taken? He needs to consider those as well."
That next step is a lawsuit.
The bar owner is suing his accusers, alleging defamation. The suit targets two former employees and a variety of Jane and John Doe accusers, seeking punitive damages.
Haymarket Whiskey Bar is on a variety of lists as one of the best whiskey bars in the United States, and is a popular stop on the city's Urban Bourbon Trail. At one time, the allegations also spilled over into Yelp.
An LMPD officer was outside as the bar re-opened.
Demonstrators declined to speak on camera except for one man who would not give his name.
"Women have been ignored for far too long," he told us. "We need to stop and start listening. It's that simple."
We spoke to the owner who was inside and behind the bar Wednesday night.
He did not have any comment except to say it is his plan to keep the doors open.
His accuser has not responded to our requests for comment.