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Two downtown hot spots close doors

by Jordan Green

A downtown Greensboro dance club and its live music sister two doors down have closed. Police have recommended against the Alcohol Beverage Control Commission issuing a new license to the Sky Bar, and the silence of the owners leaves the future of the Next Door Tavern in doubt also.

The Sky Bar’s alcohol license was revoked on Feb. 3, said Officer Tim Tepedino of the Greensboro Police Department’s community resource division.

‘“The ABC and the Greensboro Police Department got word it had changed hands,’” said Detective Mike Montalvo. ‘“Any time a business changes hands they have to reapply for a permit and the Sky Bar did not do that. It’s an accountability thing. Once it was verified that it had changed ownership me and ABC officer Tim Patterson went down and took the permit.’”

Montalvo said the Sky Bar, at 221 S. Elm St., has applied for a new license. The Next Door Tavern, at 219 S. Elm St., closed for a different reason.

‘“The ABC did not yank its permit,’” Montalvo said. ‘“The reason they were shut down is because they weren’t paying their rent and the landlord shut it down.’”

On Feb. 14 a notice by the Guilford County Division of Environmental Health was posted on the door of the Next Door Tavern stating that to reopen, the nightclub would need to obtain a permit from the Health Department. Cindy Botts, a senior office specialist at the division said the Next Door Tavern had a transitional permit that allowed it 180 days to meet code requirements, but the establishment was already closed by the time it expired.

Botts said the Sky Bar and the Next Door Tavern are owned by Henson and Moore Investments. The company is registered with the NC Corporations Division under the name of Stephen B. Henson of Greensboro. Neither Henson nor Lee Moore, also reputed to be an owner, could be reached for comment despite repeated efforts.

Tepedino said on Feb. 16 that the police will recommend that the Alcohol and Beverage Control Commission not renew the Sky Bar’s license because of the number of complaints the police have received.

‘“Mostly the ones we’re concerned about are the disorderly calls, the fight calls,’” he said. ‘“We’ve contacted the owner of the property and advised them of our recommendation. By talking to the owner of the building he’ll talk to the owner of the business. Most likely it will reopen as a new club.’”

Tepedino and Montalvo said the Sky Bar has been plagued with problems in recent months. Several assaults have taken place at the club and the Sky Bar has been sanctioned for at least one drug offense in the past year.

Two assaults and two arrests took place at the Sky Bar in January, according to incident reports provided by the police department. In an aggravated assault at 9:50 p.m. on Jan. 23, 22-year-old Travis Potts is listed as the victim.

‘“We were fooling around, me and my girlfriend and some guy thought we were fighting,’” said Potts, who was employed at the time by Cheesecakes By Alex, a store down the street. ‘“We were just joking around and [the bouncer] threw us out.’”

‘“He put me in a headlock and I dropped all my stuff,’” Potts added. ‘“And he pushed me down the stairs in the back. I just got cuts on my back and my face and on my knee from tumbling down the stairs. There’s fifteen steel stairs down there and I hit every one of them head over heels pretty much.’”

The police have also taken notice of drug use at the Sky Bar.

‘“Last summer the ABC got the DJ and a patron doing coke in the back,’” Montalvo said. ‘“They got a 60-day revocation of their permit. The DJ is considered an employee. If it’s a patron it doesn’t look as bad on the establishment.’”

If the Alcohol and Beverage Control Commission ignores the police department’s recommendation against issuing a new alcohol license, the police might take a different tack.

‘“The city and the police department are looking at them for nuisance abatement,’” Montalvo said. ‘“We’ll interview business owners and community people.

‘“Once you feel it is a nuisance to businesses and people down there, once you feel you have enough complaints, you get the district attorney to sign a letter,’” he added. ‘“It goes to the property owner. They have thirty to ninety days to clean up their act. We’ll help them come into compliance. The ABC officers will teach them to check IDs. If they don’t come into compliance, it could go to civil court. If the city wins a nuisance abatement case it could win that property. Or a judge might say, ‘You can’t have a bar on this property anymore.””

To comment on this story, e-mail Jordan Green at jordan@yesweekly.com

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