siblings -- operators of The Social House in Soulard
and the now-defunct Club Lure
on Washington Avenue -- won a big battle this week in the long-standing war over their liquor license.
On Wednesday, 22nd Circuit Judge Mark Neill invalidated
a petition drive that had been launched against them back in 2010 -- the year that downtown loft-dwellers, business-owners and The Partnership for Downtown St. Louis
all began blaming
Club Lure for the rowdy and violent behavior plaguing the nightclub district. (Click here for our feature on the controversy
In his ruling this week, Judge Neill wrote that the Excise Division
should not have sustained that protest petition because it contained two kinds of invalid signatures: Those submitted via-email (which city code forbids), and those submitted on behalf of a homeowners association (which essentially allows folks to vote twice).
"It's a huge win," says John Bouhasin
the Trupianos' attorney. "The perception people had was that the
majority of property owners and residents wanted them out of there, and
that Lure was the cause of the problems in the neighborhood, and that
just wasn't the case."
(The Trupianos have since closed Lure and
opened up The Social House in Soulard, but controversy has followed them
there: A man was murdered
behind the club in January.)
City Hall spokeswoman Kara Bowlin
has e-mailed Daily RFT
to remind us that the appeal process is only half-over. Judge Neill
ruled only on the petition issue, not on the Excise Division's
independent decision in September 2010 to revoke the Trupianos' license.
decision was made not by the Excise Commissioner (thanks to a truly
incredible coincidence and conflict of interest, which you can read
), but by Municipal Judge Margaret J. Walsh
-- if that sounds familiar, she's the judge who resigned
in February amid investigations of various improprieties.
before sending this part of the appeal back to counsel, Judge Neill did
write that despite Walsh's ruling in favor or revocation, "there is
little or no evidence to support" the charges against Club Lure.
city would like to negotiate, we'd be open to it," Bouhasin says. "But
we're more than confident and comfortable moving toward a hearing.
Ultimately the goal is for these young men to carry on operation in the
city, in cooperation with the city."
Read the ruling below.Judge Neill on Petition Drive v. Lure