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Last call for 2 Minneapolis clubs?

Authorities cited a litany of problems, including fights, drug use and intoxication at Envy and Bootleggers in moving to close them.

Article by: MATT McKINNEY , Star Tribune

Updated: August 8, 2012 - 9:46 PM

After Minneapolis city inspectors observed a rash of fights, underage drinking, marijuana smoking in the bathroom and other troubles at two Warehouse District nightclubs, they plan to revoke the liquor licenses of Envy and Bootleggers.

The announcement came at a morning news conference in which Mayor R.T. Rybak and other city leaders described efforts to curb violence that often breaks out at closing time, particularly following 18-and-older events on Sunday nights.

"These two places do not deserve to have an on-sale liquor license," said Grant Wilson, manager of the city's business licensing division.

The clubs have three options, according to letters sent Tuesday to the businesses: shut down voluntarily, allow the City Council to decide whether to revoke their liquor licenses, or appeal the revocation notice to an administrative law judge. The City Council, after the administrative law judge's report is complete, would still have the option to revoke liquor licenses.

Owners of the clubs could not be reached Wednesday.

In addition to slapping the two clubs, the City Council will consider two new ordinances to grant it more authority to deal with problem businesses, said City Council President Barbara Johnson, who also spoke at the news conference. The proposed ordinance would strengthen the council's authority to place conditions on new and existing liquor licenses and on businesses that don't sell alcohol, she said. Currently, the council places those restrictions on clubs through a negotiation with the business.

The restrictions could include separating underage customers from other patrons, prohibiting underage customers altogether and changing the hours of operation, occupancy levels or security plans, she said. A vote on the new ordinances won't take place until after a public hearing is held.

Envy and Bootleggers were among several that agreed to voluntarily suspend their 18-plus nights on Sundays through the summer. Minneapolis police Inspector Eddie Frizell said violent crime in the Warehouse District has dropped 45 percent in the past three weeks compared with the three weeks before that. That's given downtown police officers more freedom to patrol the fringes of the district, said Frizell.

Of the two clubs cited Wednesday, Envy appears the more problematic, according to the city's notice. Wilson said his staff found a crowded, dangerous and underage bar scene there, with marijuana being smoked in restrooms, fights breaking out between customers and employees and underage patrons in areas where alcohol was being served. He said the bar's management failed on several occasions to meet with police about these and other concerns.

The city has also reported at least 12 crimes at Envy so far this year, including theft, assault and robbery. Envy, 400 1st Av. N., is owned by James and Susan Beamon of Grand Group Entertainment, according to the city's notice.

The city's notice against Bootleggers, 323 1st Av. N., said the bar admitted and served a drunk person on April 1, allowed patrons to drink after 2:30 a.m., served alcohol after 2 a.m. and owes $1,500 to the city for false alarms. Bootleggers is owned by Deepak Nath under the business name Inception Entertainment, according to city records. Nath told city staff, however, that Susan Beamon has run the day-to-day operations of Bootleggers since May, according to the city's notice.

Last year, faced with a rash of shootings, the city hoped to get control when it shut down Karma, another problem club on 1st Avenue N.

Matt McKinney • 612-217-1747

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