Fallout from an October gun incident outside the E Olive Way club and an ongoing barrage of noise complaints appear to have put Capitol Hill nightclub The Social’s business in jeopardy. The club’s owners have sued the Washington State Liquor Control Board in an unusual attempt to keep the venue open.
The social-media themed dance club, owned by Capitol Hill food and drink entrepreneurs Chris Pardo and Laura Olson and investor Alex Garcia, was shuttered over the weekend and this message was posted to its Facebook page:
The temporary liquor license for The Social & Theory Vodka Lounge has expired and we will not know if we are granted our permanent license Tuesday of next week.
We are very sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused you and we look forward to seeing you soon! Kingdom Saturdays / Trashed 3 yr anniversary has been postponed.
Please stay tuned for more information!
The legal process to keep The Social in business began playing out in January as the club has been operating from month to month on a series of temporary licenses. In January, the club’s management learned the temporary licenses were coming to an end and a permanent license would not be granted.
According to court documents, The Social’s ownership took the liquor control board to court in an attempt to win an injunction and restore the club’s ability to legally sell booze. Attorneys for The Social also took the unusual steps of attempting to sue the state for damages based on the decisions to suspend the licenses alleging the club will lose $3,000 each weekday and $25,000 each weekend day it is not operating. Additionally, the lawyers contend that The Social cost more than $700,000 to build before its 2012 opening. Lawyers also warned the court that the club’s closure would mean 42 people could lose their jobs.
A response from the State Attorney General denied many of the complaint’s allegations of wrongdoing by the board and countered that the state cannot be subject to civil damages. The AG’s response documents that The Social will need to pursue a “judicial review” and appeal any final decision by the board at a later date.
CHS has learned that the unusual predicament for a nightclub has come about as the Seattle City Attorney and the liquor board are looking into this October gun incident outside the club and a rash of complaints from residents living nearby that the club exceeds legal noise limits.
We can also confirm that there is currently no active on-premise license for the E Olive Way club and any appeal of state liquor license actions can take months.
A review of SPD dispatch reports for the area shows noise disturbance callouts to the 1700 block of E Olive Way nearly every Friday, Saturday and Sunday in the last three months. The club also shares the block with Tommy Gun and CC Attle’s.
Meanwhile, residents in neighboring apartments and the Solara condo building tell CHS that state liquor board representatives have been contacting witnesses to the October shooting incident for interviews. The liquor board spokesperson has not yet answered CHS’s inquiries about the situation. The board’s office is currently closed due to the Presidents’ Day holiday.
The Social debuted in May, 2012, a collaboration between Pardo’s architecture and design, Olson’s food and drink start-up know-how and Garcia’s social media and technology background. The expensive buildout saw its budget increase even more significantly as the club told CHS it was meeting increased noise control requirements from the city. The restaurant component of the club got off to an extremely shaky start and by August, ownership had reconfigured the plan and re-opened the space adjacent the club as a vodka bar. Meanwhile, Broadway dance club Q debuted in September and has drawn steady business and mostly accolades for its big-investment design and state-of-the-art sound system.
Olson and Pardo have found nightclub success elsewhere on the Hill. The Woods venue above their Grim’s restaurant and bar on 11th Ave has drawn long lines and Capitol Hill dance scene credibility that has thus far seemed to elude The Social. Another Olson project, sports bar Auto Battery is a CHS advertiser.
The trouble on E Olive Way comes as some Capitol Hill clubs are reportedly again facing issues around the dance tax and other pressures from the city that have risen in the past around fire codes and permitting.
Property manager Darryl Christiansen at the Harvard Crest apartments just west of the club said he has told the building’s residents to keep calling 911 to report the late-night noise from the club. “I asked tenants to make sure they are calling if there is a problem,” Christiansen said. “That’s what the police told us to do.”
Christiansen said the owners of the building the club calls home, real estate investors Roy Ghazimorad and Bijan Elahi, have been also trying to solve issues around The Social but that problems continue. The building is also home to other businesses including a salon and a tattoo parlor.
Christiansen said that while the building’s owners have been helpful, The Social’s management has not been responsive to meeting with residents concerned about noise and safety issues following the October shooting incident. Meanwhile, he believes that the City Attorney, police and DPD are doing what they can to improve the situation for nearby residents.
“There’s only so much you can do,” Christiansen said. “Between an apartment building and the condos, that’s the worst place to have a nightclub in all of Capitol Hill.”