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ABC Board votes to keep D.C.'s Love nightclub closed until sold or improved

By Joe Heim
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 20, 2010; C07

Love, the District's largest nightclub, has been ordered to remain closed until it meets conditions laid out by the city's Alcoholic Beverage Control Board. And its owner, Marc Barnes, is actively seeking to sell the venue.

Commissioners voted 4 to 0 Tuesday to keep the popular nightspot shut down until it is either sold or demonstrates improvements in the way it will operate in the future.

The four-story club just off New York Avenue NE, which has played host to Beyoncé, the Roots and a slew of top-shelf DJs and hip-hop stars, was closed by District Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier on New Year's Day following a non-fatal stabbing in one of its stairwells. It was the third violent incident there in less than a week, according to police.

Club representatives expressed relief that the club was not shut down altogether. "We are glad that the board chose to make their decision not based on a snapshot of incidents in a short period of time, but rather based on the great record and reputation that Love Nightclub and its owner, Marc Barnes, have had," Love attorney Makan Shirafkan said in a statement.

In its ruling Tuesday the ABC board said that Love must submit plans for operating the club that "consist of training their Security Staff as well as additional personnel; hiring a dedicated General Manager to operate the business; any changes such as a trade name change, interior or exterior changes as well as a dress code change must be reflected in the plan; and all promoters, marketing efforts and change of personnel should be inclusive in the plan."

The board also said that if a prospective buyer is identified, "that information must be submitted to the Board for the Board to vet the buyer and either approve or disapprove the license transfer."

Barnes is "interested in selling the venue and is entertaining various offers," Shirafkan said Tuesday.

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