The Social faces uncertain future as club falls short in court demand for liquor license

Following a process that dragged out over seven temporary licenses since its May 2012 debut, a King County Superior Court judge Monday afternoon denied Capitol Hill nightclub The Social’s courtroom push for a liquor license.

Lawyers for the Social’s ownership team of Chris PardoLaura Olson and Alex Garcia argued that the state unfairly delayed and then denied the club its permanent liquor license. On Monday, lawyer Mark Kimball pleaded with the judge to further restrain the state from ending the club’s temporary license while the fight continues to appeal the liquor board’s decision to deny the permanent license. Closing the club even for a few days, Kimball said, would spell the end of its business.


The state argued that a complicated financial structure and “misrepresentations” forced the liquor board to reopen its investigation into issuing the club a license and that the process for appealing its decision to deny the license should be allowed to play out.

Judge Joan DuBuque’s decision sets up a process that will now play out over the next weeks. The Social’s management can appeal the decision and pursue a hearing with the liquor board. Those typically take 30 to 45 days to set up.

CHS reported prevously on complaints brought by neighbors against the club and allegations of “misrepresentation” of financial information provided by the club’s management in its application to the state.

State assistant attorney general Kim O’Neal said the misrepresentation stemmed from confusion about individuals involved in the management and the financing of the club included in The Social’s application.

Last month, CHS reported on the unusual step taken by The Social to sue the state to win its liquor license:

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.

In late February, CHS reported on the temporary restoration of the club’s license through this week’s hearing.

CHS also learned that the state and city officials collected information about noise from the club and an October shooting incident outside The Social. The liquor board was also concerned about information provided by The Social’s management during its application for a temporary license.

In statements submitted to the court, Olson addressed the alleged misrepresentation and the delays the club experienced:

 The state also noted the “complexity” of the financing and ownership behind the club:

Olson also contended that the state acted in bad faith by not clearly notifying her of problems with The Social’s application:

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 more than $700,000 buildout saw its budget increase as the club told CHS it was meeting increased noise control requirements from the city.

The Social’s management has said more than 40 people are employed by the club.

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49 thoughts on “The Social faces uncertain future as club falls short in court demand for liquor license

  1. This place has been nothing but a parade of stupid since it’s inception. Bad location, bad management, bad planning, etc. It seems the only thing this place ever had going for it was a lot of hyperbole prior to opening, hype they never had a prayer of living up to. Now go away and leave nightclubs in Seattle to the big boys who actually know how to turn one out (Thanks, Q!!)

  2. These people are out of their minds suing the liquor board. I heard that the owners of The Social, who are also involved in several other restaurants under Pterodactyl or something are very shady~ SHADY~! They’ve been sued by other people for mishandling money and all sorts of fraudulent issues.

    Glad, The Social is shut down. The place was nothing but trouble in our neighborhood.

  3. Almost any local business that is forced to close down by the government is bad news. I understand the concept of a public nuisance, but this club did not meet that criteria. Instead, it appears that the Liquor Control Board subjectively decided to stonewall this company by not being communicative and then bandying about allegations as a reason to deny them a liquor license. These are real local people who own this club and real local people who work there and will now be losing their jobs. And this is good? If the place was noisy, then there are other ways to deal with that rather than closing the place down completely and causing our neighbors to lose a huge investment and causing dozens of our friends and neighbors to be jobless.

  4. The Social is/was noisy, caused congestion due to their terribly planned valet parking, was scene to numerous fights, and oh did I mention the gun violence. It just isn’t something our neighborhood wants or needs. It is sad about the job loss, but the pros of The Social hitting the bricks definitely outweigh the cons.

  5. Looking at your link it appears you’re a real estate agent.

    If you had a customer looking for a condo, would you recommend they move next door to The Social?

    ” I understand the concept of a public nuisance, but this club did not meet that criteria.”

    So you don’t consider shootings and gun violence as a public nuisance? What exactly would you consider as a public nuisance?

  6. Outweighs the cons for you, asshole! We all lost our jobs so you can have quiet time fri and sat night! You people are idiots! I hope your fuckin neighborhood burns down!

  7. “I understand the concept of a public nuisance, but this club did not meet that criteria.”
    Really, I mean, really? I don’t mean to do a SNL skit here but ongoing noise complaints, a shooting, the vast number of people milling about outside. There were often so many people outside the establishment that they would end up partially in the street. They weren’t all smoking so I guess they were waiting for the valet or the second coming or Armageddon, who knows. Plus, there are two bars very nearby that have not caused neighborhood chaos.

  8. Sorry for the people that lost their jobs, but I think the blame lies on the owners, not the neighbors who got tired of the silliness.

    “Misrepresentation” in a court document is a polite way of saying “lying”.

  9. Wow, if “Pissed off’s” comment is representative of the kind of people who worked at The Social, then I have no sympathy whatsoever for those who have lost their job there. With all the ongoing problems at that business, and the ill will it generated among neighbors and other Capitol Hill residents, why would anyone feel OK about working there anyway? Good riddance!

  10. If you’ve been through the training/information session the WSLCB requires for all license applicants, you understand that you are responsible for not only what happens inside your establishment but also what happens immediately outside as well. This is part of the agreement one enters into in order to serve liquor in this state. From everything I’ve seen and read The Social’s owners failed to understand this.
    I feel badly for their employees, I hope everyone who worked on this project has been paid … but one could see this coming from a mile away. If it wasn’t this way, it was going to be another.

  11. “If the place was noisy, then there are other ways to deal with that rather than closing the place down completely…”

    Really? Have you not read the other articles and comments on this? People have BEEN trying for months to deal with the noise issue (among others) in a civil manner, and the managers/owners of The Social have pretty much refused any and all productive dialogue. No one wants to see people kicked out of jobs due to the manager’s ineptitude. No one wants to see the place shut down out of spite. Living in a building right next to The Social, I agree with all the complaints about noise, inconsiderate assholes spilling onto the street, and the general clusterfu*k The Social seems to create every weekend it’s open.

    But considering the owners/managers won’t work with the community to resolve the issues, what “other ways” can we deal with the situation?

  12. I’m confused about why this place couldn’t get a liquor license. Why does it matter how they are financed? Did the liquor board take into account complaints against the place?

  13. Mentioned above, the state has only said that information submitted in the application had discrepancies involving who was listed as ownership and as providing financing. The state has not released specifics of this because the court case wasn’t about the merits of whether Social should have been denied but how it was denied. Judge said process worked. The Social can appeal. We might learn more about specifics if Social appeals.

  14. When you apply for a liquor license you have to show your financing sources, its quite an easy process. Usually show that you have had the money in your bank for 60 days or whatever. It is designed to weed out money laundering and criminal sourcing for nightclub/bar ventures. Not saying that this place was criminally funded at all, but that is why the process is in place.

  15. @ pissed off – sorry you lost your job but please don’t take it out on cap hill residents. The Social was a blight to our neighborhood. We have to live here everyday. You can find a new job, it looks like you can type so that’s a start. Best of luck to you.

  16. I personally would be sad to see them go. There are obviously other issues at play here with significance to the community, but the Social had a great lineup of DJ’s that came through. They fit within a unique space when some of the alternatives for listening to EDM include paying $20-50 at Foundation or going to some giant USC event. It was great for just going out and hearing some good music without too much “pre-planning” necessary.

  17. I saw through one of the investors Facebook updates that it is indeed true. Let alone the noise complaints, the bar never had a true identity and the service was horrible.

  18. I’m reading that the business owners are not nice people, and everything is their fault. While they may not be nice people, they and their staff are not the ones being loud and fighting. It’s the customers. In the story and in the comments it says that the owners have and continue to try and change their business to atract a diffrent crowd, but the effort would seem to have failed so far.
    Do you really think the owners and staff want the pitch forks and torches they have been getting over this?

  19. This establishment was one of the WORST things to happen to Capitol Hill in a long time. Good Riddance! I also urge people to boycott ALL establishments of The Social’s ownership team. Their inconsideration to listen to the complaints of the community regarding all the problems their turd was causing the neighborhood is unacceptable. SO LONG!

  20. The people running this place are pretty shady. Screwed over people that worked there and promoters that worked for them. Good riddance, Karma is a bitch.

  21. The ignorance in a majority of these posts… SMH

    Its never a good thing for a community to lose a business and jobs.

    You don’t have to like the place, the people, or the owners but enough people did to pack the place.
    There is violence everywhere. To think THE SOCIAL is the reason for an increase in crime is not accurate.. Things happen. Here is an article on Capitol Hill’s crime that may help anyone understand Capitol Hill’s crime issues better.

    http://www.capitolhillseattle.com/2013/01/07/feel-like-capit

    If there was an issue or questions concerning information on the application then it should have been brought to the owners attention in a timely matter. It wasn’t and now this the reality.

    If Capitol Hill is a place you call home, represent it correctly and don’t make ignorant comments.

  22. This includes Grims, Po Dog and Emmerson among other businesses. I’ll never go anywhere that Laura, Chris or Alex have any ownership stake in.

    The problem wasn’t the neighborhood. The problem was the management and ownership team. To those who lost their jobs, I suggest those people should be the objects of your anger.

    Plenty of other clubs in dense residential areas went through similar growing pains, and survived. Because their management actively engaged the neighbors and came up with tangible solutions and compromises. This ownership group just ignored the neighbors and hoped the problem would go away.

    It should also be pointed out that it wasn’t only residents that were complaining! It was also ALL of the businesses on that block. Even the businesses who share the same building!!!! Laura, Chris and Alex are just terrible people who didn’t care about anything except making a buck.

  23. “In the story and in the comments it says that the owners have and continue to try and change their business to atract a diffrent crowd, but the effort would seem to have failed so far.”
    Yeah, because they’ve been advertising on top 40 radio and attracting every suburban rube and G-Bro possible. A business owner is still responsible for the clientele they attract, and you’d be foolish to think The Social didn’t know full well who they were attracting.
    “Do you really think the owners and staff want the pitch forks and torches they have been getting over this?”
    If they didn’t want that, they wouldn’t have completely ignored their neighbors’ repeated requests for a forum to discuss our concerns. It’s obvious they don’t care one bit about our thoughts on this matter, so please save your sympathy for someone who deserves it.

  24. “If Capitol Hill is a place you call home, represent it correctly and don’t make ignorant comments.”

    If you think the majority of these comments are ignorant, than you must not call this part of Capitol Hill home.

  25. I love how everyone who has posted supporting The Social the last few threads has basically been like “screw you and your community, I lost my job and you suck, you’re stupid, and you’re ignorant!” instead of “sorry it was a little noisy, crowded, and inconvinient at times, we’ve been trying to work on all that.”

    Terrible attitudes, really.

  26. The Social knew who their audience was: bitchy skanks and wannabe gangsters. If you actively work to attract that sort of crowd, you’re gonna have violence. Maybe if The Social hadn’t worked to appeal to the lowest common denominator, they might have had a chance in this neighborhood.
    You right to swing your fist ends with my face. As a libertarian who lives next door to this abomination, I welcome no longer having to dodge bullets and sleep with ear plugs on a Thursday night.

  27. I do no live there nor do I want to because I enjoy Olympia. The beauty about life is you can live wherever you want. No one is forcing anyone to live where they don’t want to. If you don’t like something take the appropriate steps and try to change it. Don’t just complain and be disrespectful…

    As a child when you played sports they taught you about sportsmanship… In life we call that class…

    So instead of wishing these owners and people horrible futures, boycotting businesses they run maybe give some constructive criticism since they are your neighbors and will continue to be.

    Leviticus 19:18
    “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD”

    God Bless

  28. Thank you, scovill. Seriously. You can’t try to make peace with people who refuse to engage in a peaceful discussion. And really, quoting the bible? What is this 976AD? There is probably more relevant literature to quote.

  29. Constructive criticism is all that’s ever been given up until this point.

    I don’t know when “love your neighbor” started applying to businesses, but when the ‘neighbor’ declines every opportunity to make changes, it’s time to cut that neighbor off.

    Unfortunately some ‘neighbors’ don’t listen until it’s too late. That’s nobody’s fault but their own.

    There will be another business in this space. There will be replacement jobs. Hopefully there will also be less shootings, and a little more respect to their neighbors.

  30. Everyone knows the Social is the spot, hate the $ cover but whatever. I feel for the people that live there but don’t rain on the parade. It’s the god damn weekend anyways. You’re hating on people because they’re having a good time and you’re not. Violence/gun violence is nothing new to your shitty neighborhood. Not that I’m condoning it whatsoever but cap hill is known not only for its trendy popculture ecogreen express yourself lifestyle but also its ghettoness (if you will), especially once you start goin’ down the otherside of that hill. The crowds have usually been chill. Most are dressed nice and spending $$ having a good time. Sorry you don’t go out on the weekends or don’t drink or don’t like noise or whatever. Grow up, typical passive aggressive Seattlites at their best.

  31. If this poster is representative of your average patron, I really do wonder why they had the issues they had.

    Seems like quite the educated, classy and mature crowd.

    Why The Social was ever a problem with the neighborhood I’ll never understand. But whatever.

  32. I don’t think you know what “passive aggressive” means.

    We haven’t been very passive about getting this place shut down. Doing something through legal means instead of starting fights on the street isn’t passive, it’s smart.

  33. Yes it sucks you all lost your jobs, but you should know by now that being a bartender,dj,waitstaff etc at any club in Seattle is very rarely a long term position in this day and age. Clubs close all the time for various reasons. Financial and legal troubles,violations of the law,incidents, the list goes on and on. I’ve been a dj in this city for many years and have had clubs shut down on me more times than I can count! Get your money and get out, it is what it is.
    If you can’t handle that kind of uncertainty in job security then maybe you should seek a more stable career
    instead of blaming the residents who pay good money to live on the Hill peacefully. ;)

  34. too nice – I enjoy the nightlife as much as any other resident on Capitol Hill. I can usually be seen out dancing every weekend and I also promote a monthly party at a club. But, as a promoter, I always keep in mind my location and my crowd, and always strive to be as considerate as possible when throwing a party. While I too like to drink and go out on the weekends, I strive to not be an inconsiderate asshole when I do.
    The crowds outside my window were loud and inconsiderate, and the club itself didn’t care whose lives they disturbed. There was a fight outside almost every night (usually during closing), and the cops had to herd people out of the club each night to prevent it from getting too crazy.
    The loud music and crowds weren’t just on Fridays and Saturdays either, I had to regularly deal with lodging noise complaints on Thursdays and Sundays while I was trying to sleep for work the next day.
    But whatever, you obviously care more about seen in your shiny shirts and getting drunk in your slut-corrals. Have fun with that, just take it somewhere besides directly outside my window.

  35. The best thing about these people lamenting the loss of The Social; if you asked them why they don’t live in Seattle, I’d bet you good money they’d list “It’s too loud” or “it’s too unsafe” as reasons.

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