ABC Board Approves Sale of Love Nightclub to Dean Smothers
Love Nightclub has a new owner. Last week, the Alcoholic Beverage Control board approved the $7.8 million transfer of sale from Washington "nightclub impresario" Marc S. Barnes and his Okie Dokie LLC to Dean Smothers, a local real estate investor and owner of The Scene nightclub.
Barnes opened Dream in 2001 at 1350 Okie St. NE, and changed the name to Love in 2005. Barnes and his wife and his clubs Love and The Park at Fourteenth filed for bankruptcy this summer to ward off creditors and to ensure a smooth sale. Love was shuttered for three months earlier this year, after a nonfatal stabbing occurred inside the venue on New Year’s Day. Barnes still owns The Park at Fourteenth, according to Alcohol Beverage Regulation Administration spokesperson Cynthia Simms, contrary to an NBC Washington post.
Earlier this month, D.C. Attorney General Peter J. Nickles objected to the $7.8 million deal over Smothers' tax issues involving The Scene, a nightclub on Adams Place NE. From The Wall Street Journal's Bankruptcy Beat:
The tax troubles are one of “two significant problems with the proposed transaction” that emerged at an August hearing before District alcohol regulators, Nickles said. At that hearing, the regulators denied Smothers’s request to have Love’s liquor license transferred to him from the club’s current owners, Marc Barnes and his Okie Dokie Inc.The second problem, Nickles said, is that testimony at the hearing shows that Smothers may not have the financial resources to close the sale.
“It is the policy of the District not to transfer a liquor license to an applicant who has tax problems with the city, and therefore, does not have clean hands,” Nickles said in court papers filed earlier this month.
The ABC Board stalled the then-$7.3 million sale of the 3,500-capacity Love in early August over Smothers' tax issues and whether he could ultimately handle operating the largest nightclub in the District.
“In order for [the sale] to move forward…he would’ve had to pay that,” says ABRA's Simms.
He did just that. The “tax issues…was pretty much a misunderstanding, the filing process, and how they do certain things. The taxes were pretty much paid at the time,” says Love spokesperson Ajiboye Laosebikan. “We’ve done everything [the board] has asked us to do.”
Smothers, a D.C. firefighter by day, has hired Mohammed Jahan as Love’s general manager and a security team of 60. Jahan has managed Jay-Z’s 40/40 Clubs in New York, Atlantic City, and Las Vegas.
Under the new management, the club intends to attract a diverse crowd and beef up security, according to a press release.
“We’re trying to appeal to people who haven’t been there already…a broad demographic, [focusing on] people coming into the city that normally wouldn’t be here,” Laosebikan says.
Unlike The Scene, Love under its new management won't have live music—meaning no go-go bands, Laosebikan says. The Scene went before the ABC board in July over a stabbing near the club the night a go-go band played. Laosebikan says Love may still play artists who’ve been influenced by go-go.
The sale means the $156,000 in delinquent real estate taxes on Love's property will eventually be paid by Smothers' Impulse LLC, David Masselli, the attorney representing the company, told WSJ this month. Love's 100 current employees will keep their jobs, Masselli said.
The club will be open this weekend for Howard University’s homecoming. A "grand reopening" will be announced soon.
Photo by enviziondotnet. Creative Commons Attribution License.