Talks Underway for Club 152 Reopening

By Bill Dries

The owners of Club 152 on Beale Street and prosecutors with the Shelby County District Attorney General’s office have been talking since the club was shut down a week ago as a public nuisance.

The owners of Beale Street’s Club 152 have been talking to prosecutors in hopes of reopening the club shut down last week.

(Daily News File Photo)

Both sides are due back before General Sessions Environmental Court Judge Larry Potter Thursday, May 21.

Attorney Ted Hansom, representing Club 152 Operating LLC, said he and prosecutor Paul Hagerman have been talking about conditions that could lead to the reopening of the club.

“We have some common ground in the sense that from the club’s standpoint, we don’t want any drug dealing going on there,” Hansom said. “If it is, we want to help them stop it. But we’re working towards addressing the things that they have been concerned about.”

The West Tennessee Drug Task Force closed the club under an injunction following a six-month undercover investigation. A Bartlett police officer working undercover said he bought drugs repeatedly in the three-level club, sometimes from employees. The nuisance petition approved by Potter also cited numerous police calls to the club for fights.

Hansom represents an ownership group that includes Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau President Kevin Kane as well as Bud Chittom, one of the most experienced restaurant and nightclub operators in the city including the nearby Blues City Café, and Charlie Ryan, whose other ventures include several businesses in the Cooper-Young district of Midtown.

Club 152 was shut down on the opening day of the Memphis in May International Festival’s World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest.

The month-long set of events in Tom Lee Park generates some of the largest crowds for the Beale Street entertainment district of the busy summer season.

“Certainly the state is aware of the impact on the people,” Hansom said after Tuesday’s brief update in court. “That’s not their motive here. Both sides at this point are working vigorously to resolve the matter and get these people back to work.”

Both sides as well as Potter agreed Tuesday that the owners and their employees would have access to the club without reopening it for business to take care of maintenance matters within the building.

“That’s sort of standard procedure on these cases,” Hagerman said. “If there’s any repair or maintenance or meetings they need to have, then that’s fine and we agree to that.”

The closing of the club is similar to the 2007 nuisance closing of The Tap Room, another Beale Street bar. In that case, the club reopened after agreeing to take further steps to stop drug dealing in the club following a similar undercover investigation by the same multi-agency task force.