Steel Nightclub Declared ‘Abandoned’ by City
By Donnelly Clare
Owners of the Steel Nightclub testified in a hearing during a special common council meeting Monday night, in an effort to not only keep its liquor license, but also stop the city from labeling the club as abandoned.
Their efforts were fruitless.
The club closed its doors in January of 2011, after three years of operating. Local officials say the club, once a popular American Legion hall, had become a hot-spot for bar brawls and drug activity.
Adolfo Melendez, co-owner of Steel, offered varying reasons behind closing the business, including poor management, upgrades and recreation of a new business model for the club and inability to juggle running the club with El MezCal, another business he owns.
“We needed to improve the image of the club,” said Melendez under oath.
Testimony was also offered by City Clerk John Moe as to conversations and written correspondence shared with Melendez and his business partner Victor Cheron, including contradictory statements made by Melendez as to whether the club was closing.
According to Moe, Cheron contacted both the city clerk and the city attorney offices looking for information on the standing of the club’s liquor license.
Moe said his office tried to arrange a meeting with Cheron to determine future business plans for Steel, but the meeting never took place because Cheron was in the hospital for surgery.
“We still hadn’t seen any update on what he was doing with the business,” Moe said.
Melendez testified the duo had been working on a new business model for about a month, and provided the council with hand- drawn schematics of the lower level of the club, which included three dart boards, two Foosball tables and five pool tables.
“There’s no place in this town that has a lot of pool tables,” Melendez said, adding the club could be known for hosting a pool league in the community, which would help change the club’s image- something he said is needed before the club can be sold.
“No one will buy it as is,” he said, adding he owes $345K on the mortgage.
Alderman Logan Beveridge was among many of the council members convinced the business owners had more than enough time to revamp the club and reopen.
“If the license has not been abandoned, I’d like to know what would abandonment look like?” Beveridge asked. “This place hasn’t operated as a tavern in 16 months- I don’t think any amount of planning at this point would show good cause.”
Under statute, any business closed for longer than 90 days is evidence enough of abandonment for legal purposes. The building is currently for sale.