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JP's eviction, shot by a citizen journalistWe hear that a U.S. Marshall is currently [on the morning of July 17] overseeing the eviction of JP’s Lounge (2412 Wisconsin Ave.). The strip club’s belongings span the sidewalk space from Z-Burger (2414 Wisconsin Ave.) down to Heads & Nails (2352 Wisconsin Ave.), an eyewitness reports.

The club had filed for bankruptcy protection on June 20, but Judge S. Martin Teel dismissed the case on July 2. JP’s corporate holding company, BJ Enterprises, had sought to represent itself in the suit, but that is not allowed in bankruptcy court. “It is well-established that corporate entities such as the debtor are not permitted to appear pro-se and must be represented and appear through counsel,” Teel’s order states.

JP’s shut down temporarily in early June, after the Office of Tax and Revenue placed a $654,077.87 lien on the business for back sales tax. Although that lien was almost certainly at least partly in error—since it included tax owed for several years when the club generated no sales—an OTR representative declined to confirm that the club’s tax debts had been paid in full.

Meanwhile, it seems the club’s landlord, a group of members of the Alafoginis family, had filed suit against the corporate owner of BJ Enterprises, The Vice Group, on January 27 of last year, according to landlord-tenant court records. A writ of restitution—basically, permission to evict the tenant—was approved by the court on May 13.

We have called representatives of the Vice Group and the Alafoginis family for details and will update when we hear back.

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A couple of weeks ago, JP’s Lounge (2412 Wisconsin Ave.) was wrangling with the Office of Tax and Revenue over a sales tax lien. Within a few days, JP’s had entered an agreement with OTR and reopened. Then, it filed for bankruptcy.

On June 20, the club submitted a voluntary petition for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, reporting assets of $500,000 to $1 million and liabilities of $100,000 to $500,000. In a Chapter 11 bankruptcy, a corporation can restructure its business while continuing to operate. For example, the company can renegotiate the terms of its loans or cancel contracts. The goal of this kind of bankruptcy is to satisfy all of the company’s creditors and stay in business.

The tax lien against JP’s had demanded $654,077.87 for the years 2008–2013, during most of which time the club was shuttered due to a fire. Club representative Paul Kadlick earlier told us that the lien was filed in error and that JP’s owed no back taxes at all, but an OTR representative declined to confirm this. The representative, Natalie Wilson, told us today that the agency allowed the club to reopen “based on an agreement with the taxpayer and OTR.”

We have called Kadlick for comment on the bankruptcy and will update when we hear back.

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On Friday, June 6, the Office of Tax and Revenue seized the liquor license of JP’s Lounge (2412 Wisconsin Ave.) and ordered it shut down for nonpayment of $654,077.87 in sales tax, penalties, and interest, according to OTR spokeswoman Natalie Wilson.

This morning, to hear the owners’ representative tell it, the strip club got its license back—along with a heartfelt apology from the city tax agency. “The owners owed zero. These guys have been paying taxes fine,” says Paul Kadlick, a representative for the Vice Group, which owns the club. “The revenue agent couldn’t have been more apologetic.”

Curiously, OTR’s Wilson tells a different story. As of late afternoon today, she says, the matter has not been resolved. “OTR has not released the licenses nor granted a reinstatement of any kind,” she wrote in an email after we told her about our conversation with Kadlick. “OTR is working with the new owners to bring them into compliance.”

So what gives? According to Wilson, an OTR review of the club’s account revealed that the club hadn’t paid expected sales taxes for the past six years. That’s what generated the massive tax lien. What the agency’s records apparently failed to reflect was that the club was shut down between January 2008, when a fire destroyed its original building, and June 2013, when the club reopened under new ownership. Wilson told us that OTR was unaware that the club’s ownership had changed. We wonder whether documentation of this change is what’s missing now before the club can reopen.

Kadlick told us he expected the club to be open tomorrow night.

While we had Kadlick on the phone, we asked about the long-shattered glass in the club’s mirrored doorway: Do the owners intend to fix it? Kadlick explained that someone–a Georgetown University student–has been arrested and charged with the crime of breaking the door, and that the club’s owners are awaiting the outcome of that case before repairs are made. “Someone has to make restitution” for the damage, Kadlick says. He estimated the repair cost at “several thousand dollars.”

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Good Guys (2311 Wisconsin Ave.) has promised not to apply for permission to create private dancing spaces for one or two patrons, under a formal agreement with Advisory Neighborhood Commission 3B. The club’s promise would obtain unless another strip club within two miles is permitted to create such spaces, or unless the law against strippers performing within three feet of patrons is changed. The formal agreement cleared the way for a three-year renewal of the club’s liquor license.

Good Guys has never applied for permission to create private dancing spaces. But last year, the neighborhood’s other strip club, JP’s Lounge (2412 Wisconsin Ave.), tried to gain permission from the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board to put dancers on small tabletops and in semi-private alcoves. The ANC opposed this application, which was dismissed when a JP’s representative failed to appear at a required hearing.

The ANC formally protested the Good Guys license renewal on the grounds that the club is not appropriate for such a family-centered neighborhood. It withdrew the protest in light of the  February 24 compromise agreement, which also requires Good Guys to place a security camera outside its front entrance. In recent years, a few scuffles have occurred on the sidewalk in front of the establishment, and in 2007, a man who had been kicked out of the club for unruly behavior returned and started a fire that killed a young manager.

The agreement submitted to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board included a third provision: that all Good Guys performers would use the building’s rear entrance before 5 p.m. (Good Guys opens at 11 a.m., while its competitor JP’s is not allowed to open until 5 p.m.) But commissioners struck that provision after a City Paper reporter suggested to them that it was discriminatory.* “Would fully clothed women who happen to strip for a living really destroy the family-friendliness of the neighborhood simply by walking on a sidewalk nearby?” asked Perry Stein in a March 7 story.  In an email quoted in Stein’s story, commissioner Jackie Blumenthal wrote that the ANC’s main sidewalk concern is the behavior of club patrons, not staff. “It didn’t occur to me that using the rear door would appear to be discriminatory until you raised it,” Blumenthal wrote to Stein. “Thank you for making us rethink this issue.” On March 12, the ABC Board approved the compromise agreement without this third provision.

*The first version of this story erroneously reported that all three provisions of the submitted agreement had been approved.

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From the December 2013 edition of the Glover Park Gazette:

JP’s Lounge (2412 Wisconsin Ave.) has lost its bid to offer tabletop and alcove dancing, at least for the time being. On October 23, the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board denied the strip club’s application to use the small performance spaces after club spokesman Paul Kadlick failed to appear at a hearing on the matter. Kadlick later wrote to the board apologizing for his absence—which he attributed to unexplained tardiness compounded by a Secret Service road closure—and requesting that the club’s application be reinstated. On November 13, the ABC Board denied that request. But there is nothing stopping JP’s from submitting a new application.

Meanwhile, an effort to question the club’s recent liquor license renewal seems to be at an end. On September 18, the ABC Board dismissed a protest of the license renewal by ANC 3B and the Glover Park Citizens’ Association. Because the groups’ joint protest focused the fitness of the club’s owners for licensure rather than the appropriateness of the club to the neighborhood, the Board ruled it “outside the possible grounds” for protest as outlined in the relevant statute. (The ANC recently used the appropriateness argument to get the club’s opening time changed from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.) On September 30, the two groups filed a joint request to reinstate their protest, arguing that the Board had misunderstood the statute. On October 16, the Board voted to hear oral arguments in the matter, but on October 23, its members reconsidered their decision to reconsider and voted to deny the reinstatement request without hearing oral arguments. “I feel that we don’t need to hear oral arguments,” said Board member Nick Alberti at the meeting. “If the protestants have relevant information about the licensees’ fitness for licensure, then the Board will be interested in hearing that, and we will deal with it appropriately.” The club’s license will come up for renewal again in 2015.

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The Glover Park Citizens’ Association is holding a special meeting on Tuesday, August 13 at 7 p.m. to vote on whether to support two Advisory Neighborhood Commission 3B resolutions regarding JP’s Lounge (2412 Wisconsin Ave.). The strip club reopened in June under new ownership, four years after its original building was destroyed by a fire. The meeting will be held at Stoddert Elementary School (4001 Calvert St.).

The resolutions—which the ANC passed in July—oppose the recent reactivation of JP’s liquor license and also the proposed use of tabletops and alcoves in the bar for semi-private dancing.

An Alcoholic Beverage Control Board hearing on the matter is scheduled for Wednesday, August 14 at 9:30 a.m.

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JP’s Night Club (2412 Wisconsin Ave.) is scheduled to open for business on Friday, June 21, more than five years after the strip club’s original home was destroyed in a fire, says authorized spokesperson Paul Kadlick. But the club will feature dancers only on its two customary stages, not on its three new tabletop platforms or in its two new semi-private booths. The Alcoholic Beverage Control Board ruled today that the club’s management needs to file a separate application for permission to use the smaller performance spaces—something Kadlick vows to do by Friday at the latest. Kadlick says there’s still a bit of minor paperwork to do at the D.C. Department of Health before the club can open, but he anticipates taking care of that tomorrow.

Kadlick calls today’s ruling a “substantial victory” for the club, which has faced repeated attempts by Advisory Neighborhood Commission 3B to block its reopening. But the ANC can claim a victory in today’s ruling, too. ANC members have raised concerns that the tabletop and booth platforms could encourage illegal physical contact between dancers and club clientele. Earlier, the ABC Board twice rebuffed the ANC’s pleas that the Board study the propriety of the smaller performance spaces before allowing their use. But now the Board has decided to do just that.

Placards to be posted soon at the club will list a deadline for community members to file formal objections to the tabletop spaces or to the liquor license’s reactivation. The ABC Board will consider any valid protests at a hearing later in the summer.

UPDATE: Mark Segraves of NBC4 tweets that the final paperwork has been accomplished and that the club will open at 5 pm on Friday.

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