The troubled nightclub, Habibi Cafe and Hookah Lounge, which has been the subject of numerous complaints and violations recently failed to secure an entertainment license from the city.
The business sought a new entertainment license rather than a renewal after suffering a large number of violations including indoor smoking and illegally selling alcohol, according to city records.
Police responded to 13 calls for service for fights, loud music, drugs, and a weapon for a nine-month period.
The business was also cited on June 28th, 2016 for obstructing visibility for drivers on Market Street and encroaching upon a public right-of-way for having a screen installed outside of the location — 998 Market Street.
Representatives from the business were not present during the rejection vote on Tuesday night. The owner of the business Rami Shalhoub appeared before the council in June. He promised council president William McKoy the business was rectifying the mistakes it made in the past.
“I’m not going to do it again,” said Shalhoub told the council in a late June meeting when he was asked about indoor hookah smoking.
McKoy related that he observed patrons puffing hookah indoors on July 4th, 2016. “Hookah smoke was puffing like a volcano,” he said of his observations on the night of July 4th. “It was clear all the things they’ve told was were either made up or convenient for our hearing only, but had no basis in fact or reality of how the business operates.”
At-large councilwoman Maritza Davila said Shalhoub “lied to us, to our face.” She said, “You can’t think you’re going to come to the city of Paterson and break the law.”
Though the council president was able to observe firsthand the alleged violations committed by the business, the city does not have a night inspector to catch late night businesses breaking rules.
Health director Donna Nelson-Ivy said the city has one inspector, who works during the usual business hours.
Council members said the city needs to have someone to monitor late night businesses.
Shalhoub’s entertainment license was voted down by council members at their regular meeting on Tuesday night.
The lack of entertainment license will not mean closure of the business, noted Michael Jackson, 1st Ward councilman.
With so many violations and constant complaints, the establishment’s days are numbered.
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