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Pompeii owner admits he wouldn’t want to live near bar

As neighbors enjoyed Pompeii Bar and Lounge’s weekend shutdown, they learned they have a new sympathetic ear in their efforts to shut the nighclub for good - Jose Torres, the establishment’s owner.

Torres, while blasting the residents living in the vicinity of his club as biased, admitted he would be unhappy if an establishment like his was located near his home.

He also charged that his efforts to quell Community Board 10 and his neighbors’ complaints have been met with more criticism.

“I have complied with everything that the community board has asked me to do: I stepped up security, put an I.D. scanner in place, and made sure that the people smoking outside were quiet,” Torres said. “I just don’t think that I can make it right.”

Pompeii was closed during June 4 and June 5weekend as their liquor licence expired on May 31 and was not renewed in time.

The closing appears to be temporary, as the State Liquor Authority is still deliberating charges against the troubled bar and lounge after a hearing on Wednesday, May 25.

By state law, businesses are granted permission to operate while charges regarding their licensees are still pending, but Pompeii was not granted permission to reopen in time for the weekend.

Nevertheless, residents on Coddington and LaSalle avenues were elated by the first peaceful weekend they’ve had in many months, Councilman Jimmy Vacca said.

Vacca said, “I don’t want people to think that Pompeii is closed for good, because the SLA has not denied them a liquor licence, and they could reopen. So it is not the end, but I believe that it is the beginning of the end.”

As soon as local residents noticed Pompeii did not open on Friday, they began e-mailing Vacca and contacting him on Facebook, Vacca said. One of those residents who has been fed-up with how the bar and lounge has conducted business was Coddington Avenue resident Annie Boller, who contacted Vacca as soon as she saw that the Pompeii did not open on Friday, June 3.

“I went on the SLA website and saw that the liquor licence had expired,” Boller said. “I was overjoyed and I slept through the night without waking up. It is just nice not to be woke up by screaming, yelling, and fighting. We have been praying for this.”

She has witnessed several fights out in the street, had her block barricaded by police to keep cars related to Pompeii’s business off the street a few months ago, she said.

She and her neighbors have seen people, believed to be patrons of Pompeii, urinate on her neighbors’ property and throw garbage as the bar closed in the early morning hours on many occasions.

“Had we had known ten years ago when we bought this house that this bar would have opened here, we would not have bought a house here, but looked for a quieter location,” Boller said.

Pompeii owner Jose Torres said that he and his attorney has been in touch with the SLA on a daily basis. He declined to answer questions on testimony given during the SLA hearing on May 25 related to Department of Buildings and other violations.

Community Board 10 voted unanimously to send a letter to the SLA recommending revocation of Pompeii’s liquor licence on Wednesday, May 18.

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