STEUBENVILLE - Jefferson County Common Pleas Judge Joseph Bruzzese ordered the Club 106 on South Street in Steubenville to be closed while owner Derek Smith completes renovations of the building and meets city requirements to obtain an occupancy permit.
"I want your customers to have a place to go but I want you to do this the right way," Bruzzese told Smith during a hearing Monday morning.
Bruzzese approved the city's request for a temporary injunction and will allow Smith to do work in the building by himself.
"The city will padlock the rear entrance to the building and you will secure the front door," Bruzzese told Smith.
Steubenville Law Director S. Gary Repella said city anti-crime surveillance cameras in the area will monitor anyone entering the club.
During the court hearing Agent Beth Amastadi of the Ohio Department of Public Safety testified she and another agent were working under cover when they entered Club 106 on May 25.
"We were met at the door where we were told to pay a $10 cover charge and were patted down for weapons. There were more than 100 people in the club and we walked back to the bar where there was one woman working as a bartender. I observed numerous bottles of liquor as well as bottles and cans of beer," related Amastadi.
"My partner ordered a Crown Royal and I asked for a Grey Goose. The drinks cost us $11 and my partner paid for the drinks and tipped the bartender and received change. I then went into the restroom to obtain a sample of my drink," testified Amastadi.
"We sat at the bar for about 30 minutes and saw several other people buy drinks," added Amastadi.
Amastadi said a search warrant was executed at Club 106 on May 31, "and liquor was confiscated and taken to our offices. Our inventory of the confiscated liquor included 321 bottles of beer, 43 partially filled bottles of liquor and 13 full bottles of liquor."
Smith said Club 106 makes money from the cover charge and the beer and liquor is free.
"People bring their own liquor and if they don't we give it to them. If the bartender was charging for drinks she did that on her own," Smith told the judge.
Smith said he is still in the process of obtaining a liquor permit for Club 106.
"We get involved in the community. We just held a fundraiser this weekend for a man who died. Thats what we do," Smith declared.
"I want you to be legal. I am for this to be done legally. From this day forward only you are allowed in the building. You will have to do the remaining work by yourself," Bruzzese told Smith.
(Gossett can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)