Club Crave Ends, Larger Beale Dispute Continues

By Bill Dries

Club Crave, the latest nightclub at 380 Beale St. with a history of violence, is dead.

But the Shelby County General Sessions Court order that ended it is not the endgame for a property at Beale and Fourth streets that has had many names over the decades.

The court order, announced Wednesday Jan. 16, by General Sessions Environmental Court Judge Larry Potter, specifically says Randy and Rodney Williams, the owners of Double Entity Entertainment LLC, will no longer operate a nightclub under the name Crave or any other name at 380 Beale. Double Entity is also barred from opening another “Crave” or “Club Crave” as a business or a promotional event at any other location. And Double Entity is barred from promoting, managing or operating any of the events that they promoted at Club Crave. That includes “Sexy Saturday,” the club’s headline promotion and last event before it was closed last month in the new nuisance action.

The end of Club Crave leaves a nuisance action against the owner of the circa-1975 building, former Beale Street Development Corp. director George Miller, who has leased it to different nightclub operators for decades.

Miller leased the building to the Williams brothers in August 2011. That was the month after Environmental Court supervision of the property ended because of violence on and around the property during its incarnation as the Plush Club.

The Shelby County District Attorney General’s office sought last month to close Club Crave permanently with a nuisance petition citing police arrests in and around the nightclub and violence, including several homicides. The string of incidents cited in the request for the court order began about seven weeks after Club Crave began its lease.

The day the club was closed under the General Sessions Court order pending a hearing or settlement, Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. added that the city would seek to have the building demolished.

What remains is a court fight with the city and the District Attorney General’s office on one side and Miller on the other.

Potter has scheduled a Feb. 13 trial date for the matter, which now involves whether Miller should be able to lease the building to anyone who wants to operate another nightclub on the property.

There could be a settlement before the Ash Wednesday court date.

While Miller is the person who appears to run the property on a long-term basis, property records in the Shelby County Assessor’s office show the owner of the property as the Beale Street Development Corp. with notices going to Miller.

The July 2, 1974, warranty deed on the property, the only sales document listed for it, shows the Memphis Housing Authority sold it to Beale Street Development Corp. for $49,311.90.

The Wharton administration is currently negotiating with the development corporation on a Chancery Court lawsuit that is the last barrier between the city regaining day-to-day control over the entertainment district. The district’s boundaries do not include 380 Beale.

The federal bankruptcy court case over the departure of Performa Entertainment as manager and developer of the district could be settled and closed later this month in a court hearing. Last year, Bankruptcy Court Judge Jennie Latta denied a claim by the development corporation that Performa owed it $6 million, which sets the stage for the settlement of the case.

Wharton said earlier this month that the city will likely not try to run the district itself but seek another manager for the district or some kind of appointed board to run the district once the court cases are resolved. He also said there would be some kind of role for the development corporation in what would be the second phase of the district’s development.