No Mambo For Two Months; ABC Violations Result in License Suspension for Dover Street Night Club
Wednesday, March 13, 2013 • 10:27pm
PATERSON, NJ – The owner of the Mambo Lounge has agreed to close his controversial 5th Ward dance club for 60 days, starting March 18, as punishment for two fights that happened at the bar in 2011.
Under an agreement approved at Wednesday night’s meeting of Paterson’s Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) board, the city would drop seven other pending violations against the club if it does not get any other summonses during a 90-day probation period after it reopens in May.
ABC officials said that if the lounge gets hit with any violations during the probation period, then the city would move forward with prosecuting the seven other charges. They include two assaults and three fights, according to city documents.
The club faced a maximum penalty of 221 days’ suspension if all nine violations were upheld, officials said.
“We’re taking this very seriously,’’ Michael Andalaft, the attorney for the club, told the ABC board. Andalaft said that some of the problems happened more than a block from the Dover Street premises and he asserted that recent renovations to the club have helped “to dress the block up.’’
Andalaft said the club stands next to an abandoned building in a neighborhood that has a street gang problem. In one instance, he said, the club provided refuge to someone who was being chased from several blocks away.
But 5th Ward residents tell a different story, asserting that the club has brought violence, noise and disruption to their neighborhood. “This shows that the city is taking this seriously,’’ said Dover Street resident Attilio Ciarla, referring to the 60-day suspension. “It’s a big relief for us. It means we can get some sleep.’’
Ciarla said he was concerned the club might avoid trouble during the probation period only to let things get out of hand after that. “I’m going to be watching them,’’ he said. “It’s a neighborhood, not a jungle. He can’t do anything he wants.’’
ABC board president Bennie Cook said the 90-day probation would give Mambo owner Jorge Mejia a chance “to see if he can turn his place around.’’
Andalaft maintained that the night club’s security staff made the neighborhood safer with their presence and he warned the area would become “darker than it’s ever been” during the Mambo’s 60-day suspension.
“I guess we’ll have 60 days to determine whether your place is the originator or not,’’ said Frank Covello, the attorney for the ABC board.