A downtown club is indefinitely closed after police said it tied up too many police resources and attracted too much criminal activity.
Central Precinct officers executed a padlocking order on Luau Louie’s Hula Hut around 2 p.m. Thursday after Criminal Court Judge Mark Fishburn signed a temporary injunction order, stating that the club had become a public nuisance.
The temporary injunction names owners/operators Jody Browne and Full House Management Group Inc. as well as property owner C.B. Ragland Inc. as respondents. A hearing is set for Sept. 28 to discuss what actions would be required if the club was allowed to reopen.
The club will remain closed and the principals are prohibited from entering the building at least until after that hearing. Police also executed a search warrant seeking further evidence of the criminal activity claimed in the injunction.
Situated at 217 Second Ave. S., police said the 18-and-up club had been the subject of 405 calls for police service with 105 serious enough to require a police report since last October.
Some of the alleged activity in and around the club includes underage drinking, aggravated assaults, robberies and drug violations to the point that on weekend nights officers often had to conduct extra patrols in the immediate area and park nearby to monitor the club.
Attorney Adam Dread, representing Luau Louie’s, told the media Thursday his clients was working with police on the various concerns but that Luau Louie’s was “kind of being scapegoated” and punished for crimes happening mostly by minors in the parking lots surrounding the club.
“We are making efforts to try to comply with what the police would like,” Dread said. “Nobody wants downtown to be dangerous, but the thing you have to realize is there are five huge parking lots around here.”
But Central Precinct Commander Jason Reinbold said much of activity was directly linked to Luau Louie’s.
“Unfortunately, this establishment consumed half of Central Precinct’s resources nightly over the Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, so that really put the handcuffs on the police department as far as what we could produce as service to our community.”
Browne told The City Paper last month that he wanted to work with police and had implemented changes to the club’s security practices to cut down on reported underage drinking. He’d even fired three rounds of security teams, one after police claimed they were selling “of-age” wristbands to underage patrons.
A major sticking point for police had been the management’s refusal to become a 21-and-up club.
Asked Thursday what more club management should have done, Reinbold said, “Certainly, they should have worked on security measures and business practices to eliminate — absolutely eliminate — minors consuming alcohol, and they should prevent … all violent acts occurring on or near their property.”
In recent months, police have also padlocked two Murfreesboro Pike clubs. The police padlocking action against Luau Louie’s is the first of its kind against a downtown club.
Reinbold said, however, there are other clubs in his precinct that could become padlocking candidates as well.
Asked about the possibility of other clubs facing the same threat from police, Tom Turner, president and CEO of the Nashville Downtown Partnership, said, “I think when there are businesses that really openly flaunt a law, I think we’re 100 percent behind the police department, and I think their actions are more than appropriate.”