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 Pardo, Laura 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.