Problems at Passion Lounge in 2nd Ward
Tuesday, September 18, 2012 • 3:11pm
PATERSON, NJ – City Police Sgt. Thomas Trommelen was driving in the 2nd Ward last month when he said he noticed that a section of Linwood Avenue was closed to traffic. After pulling over, Trommelen said he realized that a nearby club, Passion Lounge, was illegally using the Linwood for valet parking.
That prompted Trommelen to check inside the club on Union Avenue. Eventually, city officials said they put together a substantial list of infractions at Passion Lounge, including hookah smoking, creating an outdoor tiki bar without permits, renovations that were done without city approvals, providing entertainment without a license, and having a felon on the payroll
“Basically, they were doing whatever they wanted to do,’’ Trommelen told the City Council at a recent meeting.
After hearing testimony from Trommelen and Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) officer Ralph Gambatese, the City Council on Sept. 11 decided not to vote to give Passion Lounge an entertainment license. Instead, the council opted to allow the city’s ABC board to rule on the various summonses filed against the Passion Lounge, before the council considered the council application.
Councilman Rigo Rodriguez tried to convince his colleagues that they should help the new business along by granting the license. He said withholding the license would cause a hardship for the owners. But other council members argued that the night club already was creating hardships for the neighborhood.
“I think you ought to look at the seriousness of the charges,’’ Councilman William McKoy said to Rodriguez. “These are stark black-and-white issues.’’ Giving the Passion Lounge a license, McKoy asserted, would be unfair to other law-abiding businesses in the city.
Passion Lounge owner, Juana Martinez, attended the council meeting but did not say anything during the hearing because she has difficulties speaking English. A week earlier, Martinez’ license hearing had been postponed because of the language barrier. City officials told her to bring a translator on Sept. 11. But the woman whom she brought said to the council that she herself did not communicate in English very well.