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Taking aim at troubled Hunts Point clubs

Bronx Times

Hunts Point is no stranger to bar brawls.

But this one is pitting the local community board against three bars.

And while it could be last call for two pubs, another brawl is heating up.

Community Board 2 is poised to win their longtime battle against Club Heat, a gritty Hunts Point club recently shut down. A sign by the U.S. Marshal’s Office was recently posted on the front door of the darkened bar. But an attorney for the near-defunct bar has filed renewal papers with the State Liquor Authority for their current two-year liquor license, which expired Jan 31st.

They issued a license renewal request two weeks before despite the obvious signs the bar had been shuttered. Club owners also failed to give the 30-day notice to Board 2, a legal requirement.

“I get the liquor license request and I couldn’t believe it,” said CB2 District Manager Rafael Salamanca Jr., who logged a number of incidents linked to the club.

The most infamous was the fatal shooting of Monique Rodriguez, caught in a crossfire in December 2011.

A month later, there was a double shooting and stabbing, forcing the local 41st Precinct to issue violations for unlicensed bodyguards.

After an aggressive probe, the Four-One demanded bodyguards be licensed and surveillance systems upgraded.

“They never came through with anything they said they were going to do,” said Salamanca.

SLA spokesman William Crowley said his agency has yet to received an application for the license renewal.

The club’s attorney, Miguel Vidal Jr., did not return calls for comment.

A Hunts Point strip club known as Club Eleven faced a disciplinary hearing Feb. 5 on a number of violations, with an administrative judge expected to rule shortly. Even if it is fined, the club owners have a right to appeal to the full commission.

The club, at 1152 Randall Ave., has a laundry list of infractions, ranging from fights to reports of prostitution, according to the SLA. The agency charged it with 20 violations last year, including a New Years Eve incident where a man’s face was cut.

“My question is how could they go in with this knife?” asked Salamanca Jr. “What kind of security process you have in place?”

Meanwhile, CB2 voted last month to recommend Ebony Lounge, a shady hangout spot in Longwood, be closed under the city’s Nuisance Abatement law. The 41st Precinct initially asked that the bar be closed after issuing 40 summonses last year, mainly for after-hour liquor sales.

Other reported incidents included a New Year’s Eve brawl that resulted in a DJ and bouncer arrested for weapons and marijuana possession, said Salamanca.

He wondered whether any of his or other lawmakers written complaints to the SLA hold any weight against unwelcomed clubs.

“We want a business that doesn’t require a police car to be there every night because they’re scared of all the violence,” he said.

Crowley insisted the SLA does take complaints into account, though it can’t deny a license purely on complaints.

David Cruz can be reach via e-mail at DCruz@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3383

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