City Desk

ABC Board Stalls Sale of Club Love

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The sale of Love Nightclub won't be going through quite as quickly as the people involved in the transaction were hoping.

Love, on Okie Street NE off New York Avenue, shuttered for three months earlier this year after a non-fatal stabbing inside the club on New Year’s Day. Since reopening, the club has only catered special events. Owner Marc Barnes filed bankruptcy for his club earlier this month. The plan had been to sell to Dean Smothers, owner of The Scene, on Adams Place NE.

But the Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board refused to allow transfer of the liquor license involved after a hearing on Wednesday.

“Clearly when you acquire arguably the largest nightclub in D.C., that has a history [of] having large events, lots of people, lots of activity, clearly it’s interesting to us who’s going to move in,” said ABC Board Chairman Charles Brodsky at the hearing.

Smothers plans to acquire the 3,500-capacity venue for $7.3 million–encompassing the property, the trade name, Love, and all assets within the property.

A firefighter by day, Smothers does not run The Scene's day-to-day operations. The venue already has a history of at least four appearances before the ABC Board since it’s opening a year and a half ago, said board member Mital Gandhi, who worried about the management of Love. (And who will not be moving on from the ABC Board to the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics.)

Although Smothers has hired Mohmmad Jahan, who’s run various properties for Jay-Z’s 40/40 Club, as the general manager and two assistant managers, to handle Love’s day-to-day activities, alongside 60 security personnel, Gandhi expressed concern.

“I’m trying to figure out [how] you, with the full-time job and a lot going on, how you’re going to be able to run not only The Scene, but also the largest night club in the District,” he said. “And I’m still not comfortable with that, especially given the track record you have with The Scene.”

On questioning, Smothers was asked how Love would differ from The Scene, a live entertainment venue. He said the venue will host patrons 21 and up, adding there'll be live entertainment, but no drum sets or guitars.

“If it looks like a duck, and it quacks like a duck, than it’s a duck...whether he doesn’t have a bongo or a banjo, I personally don’t give a crap,” Brodsky responded.

After a 10-minute recuse with attorney Makan Shirafkan, Smothers clarified, live entertainment of all sorts will happen, but there won’t be any go-go to avoid certain crowds. (Presumably, crowds of young black go-go listeners, who the ABC Board and the Metropolitan Police Department believe attract trouble.)

Brodsky admonished, “We appreciate your representations that you will not produce go-go music in your night club, [but] I think you’re foolish to do that. Go-go brings in money, and it brings in people, and it’s the epicenter of…Washington, D.C.”

The ABC Board also announced they’d received a letter from the Office of Tax and Revenue opposing the sale to Smothers. The letter read, “Based on the research of our tax records, The Scene is not in compliance with the tax laws of the District. As such, we’d currently object with the transfer.”

“[I] didn’t know we had those issues until we got the letter today,” Smothers who'd also just received a copy that morning said. “That issue will be resolved today.”

Smothers didn’t help his case when he noted recently hiring a new accountant, and then couldn’t recall whether the new accountant was hired six months ago or two weeks ago. He also said the tax issues probably had to do with $4,000 worth of tax delinquencies from when The Scene first opened—but he couldn't be sure.

Once Smothers paid his owed taxes and provides the board with a slew of other documents, the ABC Board says they'll take a second look.

Photo by enviziondotnet. Creative Commons Attribution License.

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  • Rick Mangus

    I'm not feeling the Love!

  • Quisling Crakkka Dog

    Tsk tsk, ol Dean, what I tell you champ!! You thought by appeasing the ABC with that go go debacle @ SCENE that it would afford you some browney points in acquiring LOVE, THINK AGAIN!!

    You are a minority businessman caught up in THE FIX!!

  • sedcdude

    Tsk tsk, ol Dean, what I tell you champ!! You thought by appeasing the ABC with that go go debacle @ SCENE that it would afford you some browney points in acquiring LOVE, THINK AGAIN!!

    NOT ONLY DID YOU SELL OUT GO GO AND YOUR OWN KIND, BUT YOURSELF HOMEY!!!

    You are a minority businessman caught up in THE FIX!! And that fix would consist of WHITEY'S "taking back" of not only AMERIKKKA, but also DC! You see this is why it so important that BLACK FOLK protect their leaders (to include MARION BARRY), institutions, establishments and the strides made in the last 50 years, good or bad!!!

    Now that you've bent over and showed them some ass, they now wanna fukk you; and the choices are with or without VASELINE!!!

    Niggas better get together and protect what and who we got, in order to get what we want....it's not a game!!

    I SAW THIS SH*T A MILE AWAY!

  • tformation

    Lol, WOW sedcdude. Blunt! Lol!

  • Rick Mangus

    "Power to the people", "No justice, no peace", "Those white blue eyed devils"! What do all of these comments have in common they were all said by assholes morons, two are six feet under and one is going to be an ex-congresswomen and soon a convict! How do you like them apples, 'sedcdude', you have a lot to be PROUD of brother!

  • sedcdude

    Ol' Rickey "MANSPUNK" MANGEE MANGUS BEEFEATER!!!!

    I knew the sexual inuendo would arouse and bring your fruit bat looking ass from outta' your batcave you freak of nature!!

    To the contrary my faux follies frollicker, I am still kicking and breathing so gimme a FIGHTER'S CHANCE SUGA BOY!

  • Jiggaboo Coon

    Great. Now all of those hoodratsand Section 8 locusts will be coming to other parts of the city to disturb the rest of us.

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