Love, one of Washington's largest nightclubs, had its liquor license suspended and doors padlocked last Wednesday because of unpaid taxes, according to officials from the Office of Tax and Revenue and the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration. The timing couldn't have been worse for the club: Several lucrative Howard Homecoming events were canceled, including a Saturday night party scheduled to be hosted by Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Young Jeezy.
Like all nightclubs in Washington, Love was required to renew its liquor license by Sept. 30, said Jessie Cornelius, public information officer for the city's Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA). "Love had attempted to renew its license with ABRA during the renewal period; however, it was prevented from doing so because it failed to produce a Clean Hands Certificate," Cornelius said in an e-mail. "This document is required in order to renew a license and certifies that the licensee does not owe the District in excess of $100 in fines or back taxes."
According to city records, Love's owners owe quite a bit more than $100 in back taxes.
A tax lien filed by the city Sept. 4 lists the total taxes, penalties and interest due as $113,996.64, with 10 percent interest compounded daily. Additionally, the owners of the property are a month overdue on a $51,189 property tax bill. (You can see PDFs of both bills below.)
Without the Clean Hands certificate, ABRA issued a cease and desist order to Love on Wednesday, Oct. 23, requiring the club "to STOP selling, serving or permitting the consumption of alcoholic beverages" until it receives the certificate verifying that the owners owe $100 or less, pays the $5,850 fee for its nightclub-class liquor license and pays a $50 fine for each day the club lacks a liquor license.
This isn't the first time Love has been in hot water over taxes. Before current owner Dean Smothers bought the club from Marc Barnes in 2010, then-Attorney General Peter Nickles opposed the sale, citing the back taxes Smothers owed on his Northeast Washington nightclub, the Scene. That club was shuttered in December 2010 over $92,000 in unpaid city taxes.
Calls to Love for comment were not returned.