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Publication Date: Friday, May 30, 2003

Limelight restricted to 21 and up Limelight restricted to 21 and up (May 30, 2003)

Owners say new rules will put them out of business

By Candice Shih

In what appears to be another final blow to the Limelight nightclub, the city council Tuesday voted to restrict access to the club to those under 21, and to limit its dance club use to three nights a week.

Also, as part of the new set of conditions, the Limelight will have to operate its restaurant seven days a week, close its dance club at 1 a.m., and meet regularly with the Mountain View Police Department and residential neighbors. It will be allowed to continue to its teen nights for 14-to-17-year-olds, and the club will face a six-month review.

The council voted 5-2, with Greg Perry and Nick Galiotto opposed to the conditions.

For almost a year, the city has received complaints from neighbors and nearby business owners that Limelight patrons have been drunk, loud, and abusive and have contributed to a negative and unsafe downtown atmosphere.

When the city council imposed new restrictions on the club, including the end to its popular events for teenagers last December, the owners Andrew and Kareem Nahas sought a buyer' they thought they found him in March, but Harry Avanessian pulled out this month.

As a result, their operation faced the council again to plead its case, primarily on the issue that it would no longer be allowed to admit patrons under 21.

"It cannot just be an over-21 club or the Limelight will not exist," said Stefan Kennedy, an attorney representing the Nahas brothers. He contended that the Limelight's clientele consists 80-85 percent of 18-20-year-olds but that alcohol only comprised 36 percent of its sales.

Several council members were sympathetic, citing the need to protect the few activities available for young citizens under the legal drinking age, and inquired about increased police presence as a solution.

But patrolling the Limelight more on nights when the dance club is open would keep police officers from answering calls in other areas in the city, said Police Captain Michael Freeberg. "It'll be a police department problem, not a Limelight problem."

It has continued to be a problem since the last hearing in December, despite the age restrictions and other conditions that were set forth. "There continue to be disturbances from patrons who drink in their cars or elsewhere on the street," said zoning administrator Whitney McNair.

Kennedy admitted that the club had continued to allow in its core clientele in the 18-20-year-old age group.

"These problems have come with these owners. We have had six months of blatant non-compliance," said Council member Rosemary Stasek. "These specific owners have no credibility."

But Perry advocated the inclusion of underage patrons. "It's not the place for us to drive them out of business," he said.

After the decision was made, Kennedy remained steadfast to the conclusion that the Nahas brothers will go out of business.

Andrew Nahas said he might attempt to sell the club again but he was skeptical of its potential as a 21-and-over club. "It'd probably be worse. It'd be a tough crowd to control," he said.

E-mail Candice Shih at cshih@mv-voice.com


 

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