The Minneapolis nightclub where a man was killed in a shooting Sunday has been accused of violating city ordinances five times since 2018, including allegations that staff drank on the job, failed to disperse rowdy customers and served alcohol to an underage patron.
City business inspectors expect to decide later in the week whether they will require changes at Rouge at the Lounge, 411 N. 2nd Av., according to city spokesman Casper Hill.
The club is also expected to attract attention from the Downtown Improvement District’s Nightlife Plan Implementation Committee, a group of city staffers and business leaders working to improve safety. That group has the ability to recommend security changes for businesses that serve alcohol.
“We anticipate that at a minimum this business will be requested to conduct a new review to implement strategies to improve safety,” Hill said.
Brian Bell, manager of Secure Entertainment LLC, listed as the contact person on the city’s violation notices, did not respond to messages Tuesday. In a Facebook post, Rouge at the Lounge described the weekend shooting as an “unimaginable incident” and expressed sympathy for the people “shaken” by it. It said club staff will work with law enforcement.
“Rouge at the Lounge ownership and staff are in a state of shock and disbelief that this occurred in our place of business,” the club wrote in the post. “Our top priority has always been, and remains, the safety of our customers and staff.”
The club’s past violations range in severity. In February 2018, city inspectors said Secure Entertainment LLC violated its alcohol management responsibilities following a fight that appeared to start at the club and move to a parking ramp.
When police arrived, 20 to 30 people were there including some people who “appeared to be accompanied by several security staff from Rouge,” according to a city report.
“Several of the security staff were visibly intoxicated,” the report said. “Since it was only a short time after bar close, it appeared that the security staff were drinking while they were providing security for Rouge at the Lounge.”
The city instructed Secure Entertainment LLC to “ensure that there are no negative secondary effects attributable to the existence of the business.”
Later that year, in July 2018, the company was cited for violating its alcohol management responsibilities, after a triple shooting on the sidewalk cafe patio in front of the club.
“Security at Rouge at the Lounge had identified two groups of people fighting at one point in the night and allowed one or both groups to stay at or near the establishment instead of asking them all to leave the premises and the immediate area,” a city inspector wrote.
City inspectors filed another citation in September 2018, when an inspector found a 20-year-old man drinking a Modelo beer in the front room of the nightclub. The next month, the city sent Rouge at the Lounge a notice saying it had failed to pay two citations, which by that point totaled a combined $1,100.
The next violation came in November 2019, when the city quoted a police report that said a driver hit four people with a car in front of the club. “This occurred after an altercation stemming from promoters operating at your establishment and their ‘security,’ ” the city wrote.
The citations have since been paid. They can be considered when the city makes future licensing decisions, Hill said.
Minneapolis police were called to Rouge at the Lounge shortly after 2 a.m. Sunday and arrived to find a “chaotic scene” as people fled the club. Inside, officers found a man who had been shot. He later died at HCMC. His name has not yet been released.
A second man, who was wounded, made his own way to the emergency room.
Minneapolis police spokesman John Elder said Tuesday morning that the investigation was “still very active” and police had not yet made any arrests.
“We are not at a point in the investigation where we are able to make any determination of what was happening inside,” Elder said. “We’re still dealing with suspects and witnesses.”
The club wrote on its Facebook page that staff members could not discuss details of the shooting, citing the police investigation.
“We want to assure everyone that we will continue to provide a safe, festive and entertaining environment that you have come to expect and enjoy since 1995,” the post said.