COLUMBIA, SC — A North Carolina man has applied for an alcoholic beverage license at the site of a former River Drive strip club, but his request is being met with opposition.
Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott filed an objection to the permit, forcing the applicant to request a hearing before an administrative law judge if he wants to proceed with his plans.
The site has been a strip club for years, but it has operated under different names and ownership, often with controversy surrounding it. The club last operated as Crush Nightlife, but it was closed in January after it twice was raided by Richland County sheriff’s deputies.
The liquor license applicant, Dave West of China Grove, N.C., would not provide details about his plans for the club, saying “I’d rather not discuss it right now.”
But he said, “No, it’s not going to be a strip club. It’s hard to say.”
The application is for an on-premises beer and wine license and for a liquor-by-the-drink license, according to the application on file at the S.C. Department of Revenue. The corporate name is Barfly Enterprises LLC, but a name for the club has not been listed.
No one has filed for a business permit at the site at 3722 River Drive, according to Richland County’s business service center. The business is just outside the city limits.
Lott said Thursday he was objecting to an alcohol license at the location because he thinks a new club would create the same problems for the community. The club owner plans to open a bar similar to Hooters, Lott said.
“Without calling it a strip club, he’s going to have scantily clad women in there serving food, which is the same story we’ve heard at that location before,” Lott said.
Lott’s objection will lead the revenue department to send a denial letter to West. West then has 90 days to protest the denial and to request a hearing in administrative law court, said Samantha Cheek, a revenue department spokeswoman.
The property is owned by Jerry Britt, who bought it in 1999. Mostly recently, it was operated by Stan Hudgens, who ran the club under the name Crush Nightlife. In recent memory, it also has operated as Chastity’s Gold Club and Savannah’s.
When the club closed in January, Lott and 5th Circuit Solicitor Dan Johnson were building a case for having a judge declare it a nuisance. But neighbors who were fed up with crime associated at the club were critical of public officials, including Richland County Council, for allowing the club to operate for months without the proper permits and licenses.
Shootings were reported on consecutive weekends in January. The club also was burned in 2012 by a Hells Angels motorcycle gang based out of Rock Hill and Lexington. The Hells Angels former president pleaded guilty to multiple charges in federal court, including a conspiracy charge that alleged arson.
In 2006, when the club operated under the name of Chastity’s, Columbia attorney Dewain Herring shot and killed a bouncer, John H. Johnson Sr., before being arrested following a hail of gunfire at his Gregg Park home.
Lott said police calls have fallen off since Crush closed.
“That neighborhood and that area have been extremely quiet since that club was closed down,” he said.
Reach Phillips at (803) 771-8307.