License Commission Rolls Back Hours of Karma Lounge

The Everett License Commission unanimously rolled back the hours of the Karma Lounge in Glendale Square to midnight based on incidents and problems with the Lounge that have been ongoing.

The discussion, however, did not specifically include the murder that took place outside the Lounge last week by patrons of the establishment, as that is an ongoing police investigation. While it might have figured in as a point of reference, most of the issues discussed Monday night revolved around the changing nature of the business.

“I simply think they’ve moved away from the business plan they presented to us and I’d like to suggest we will scale their hours back to midnight with not bottle service at all,” said Commissioner Phil Arloro. “I’d like to bring them keep them at midnight until they can show us they’ve gone back to the Lounge environment they promised.”

Chair Phil Antonelli put forward the plan to roll back the hours to midnight at the Lounge, eliminate bottle service, get quarterly reports on alcohol sales, finish up their occupancy permit issues and provide a new security plan.

The Lounge came in in the summer of 2018 with plans to create a Hookah Lounge with a relaxed environment that included mostly tobacco sales, but also a liquor license. While many on the Commission were excited about the concept, on Monday they said that the ownership has strayed from that plan and has now created a night club environment.

“The business plan has not been met,” said Antonelli. “It’s getting worse…You guys know it was going in a different direction. We see it with incident that have happened there…We’re not going to have a night club. Everett is a bedroom community and it’s not a place for a nightclub…We’re not here to talk about what happened last week. We’re here because of the way the business is being run. We’re been talking with you for the past year. The business plan you presented isn’t being fulfilled. We said no bottle service and it’s still being promoted. We said no promotion of DJs and that’s happening still. It’s habitual. Maybe the recent incident didn’t spur this conversation, but I need to protect you and the citizens of Everett…This has spiraled out of control.”

Arloro said the original business plan was exciting, but the current business is attracting the wrong crowd. He particularly took issue with the advertising of the Lounge, in that it appeared to be a dance club.

“The clientele is coming, which is good for you, but it’s bringing in the wrong people and things are escalating,” he said. “That’s why we get what just happened. You presented a fabulous idea. It’s become a hostile situation. People are getting hurt, pushed around and the more serious thing that just happened.”

Councilor Michael McLaughlin appeared and said there is a problem with noise and trash blocking the sidewalk. Though Karma is in a commercial district, there is a senior citizen building nearby and a residential neighborhood across the street.

“I hope you will work more with the residents,” he said. “You are commercial, but there are neighbors very close. There are residences immediately across the street.”

Owner Varun Punj was represented by Attorney Mark Rotondo, who stressed the question of whether the decision was made based on the murder. Members said it was not about that incident, but about a long history of problems even before that.

Rotondo said his client planned to work with the City to address all of the concerns brought up at the meeting. The licenses will be evaluated before the annual renewal deadline on Dec. 31.

•Tres Gatos was also before the Board again, after appearing there last July for problems with the patio and patrons congregating outside.

Chef Ozzie appeared due to the fact that there have been noise complaints about activity on Sunday night in particular. Also, a man was arrested in August for drunk driving, and said the last place he drank was Tres Gatos. Those two matters brought Ozzie back before the Board Monday night.

Ozzie had voluntarily rolled back his hours in July to try to curb the problem.

“I don’t see anything that says to me you’re controlling the business,” said Arloro.

Councilor McLaughlin testified that he has gotten calls from neighbors, and they have requested that the hours be rolled back on Sundays.

Chair Antonelli proposed a closing of 11 p.m. on Sundays, and midnight every other day. There will be no patio allowed any longer either.

It was approved.

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