Minneapolis city officials announced Wednesday they are seeking to revoke the liquor licenses of two downtown clubs.
The two nightclubs, Envy and Bootleggers, are located a block from each other along First Avenue North. According to city documents, each club has amassed multiple license violations and unpaid citations.
City business license manager Grant Wilson said inspectors saw underage customers in areas where alcohol was being served.
"In the case of Envy, particularly, they did feature what are known as 18-plus nights where people of legal drinking age could mingle with those that were not of drinking age," Wilson said. "That did create problems. It was hard to keep them separated."
Wilson said Envy had agreed to temporarily stop holding the 18-plus nights, but said other violations prompted the city to take aggressive action.
City inspectors also reported seeing bartenders serve clearly intoxicated patrons and seeing customers served drinks after the 2 a.m. bar close. Inspectors found more violations at Envy. They documented instances of fights inside the club, as well as smelling marijuana smoke coming from the bathrooms.
"Since January 2012 there have been at least 12 reports of crimes ranging from thefts to aggravated robberies of person that can be attributed to the business," inspectors said.
The city began cracking down on late-night crime three weeks ago and blamed the 18-plus events for contributing to an uptick in weekend night violence. Police credit the crackdown for reducing late-night violence by 45 percent over the three-week period.
Police inspector Eddie Frizell said that, along with increased law enforcement presence, have made it possible for officers to pay attention to other parts of downtown.
"What that enabled us to do was to focus our resources on more of the livability type crimes that were occurring around the periphery of the Warehouse District, which resulted in a 6 percent increase in our pro-active activities," Frizell said. "Over the last quarter, we've had a 70 percent increase in arrests overall."
MPR News was unable to reach the owners of either club for comment. City records show that Envy is owned by James Beamon with a company called Grand Group Entertainment. Bootleggers is owned by Deepak Nath of Inception Entertainment LLC. Both are Minneapolis-based companies.
Wilson said the owners have three options. They can either surrender their business licenses and close the clubs; they can admit that the violations did occur and allow the Minneapolis City Council to decide if any punitive action be taken; or they can dispute the findings and take their case to an administrative law judge.
Wilson said that course may take three months to complete.