It’s hard to think of a nightclub more beloved by District pols than Park at 14th. Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans held his birthday party there; so did At-Large Councilmember Vincent Orange. But now club owner Marc Barnes says he isn’t getting a fair shake from the city—and he’s filed a lawsuit over it.
Last year, Metropolitan Police Department Chief Cathy Lanier shut the club down for four days after a fight between two patrons. Justifying the closure, which she’s allowed to issue under District law, Lanier alleged that Park at 14th staff tried to sneak an injured customer through the back of the club so MPD officers in the front wouldn’t see him.
In his lawsuit, Barnes says Lanier’s shutdown has cost him $1 million in business. Barnes insists that Lanier’s shutdown wasn’t justified. As proof, he points to an Alcohol Beverage Control Board decision that declined to take any further action after the shutdown.
“The police chief wasn’t down here,” Barnes says. “The police chief got her information from the people that work for her.”
This isn’t Barnes’ first dispute with MPD. In 2014, he was arrested for theft and destruction of property after seizing fake ID’s.
A spokesman for the Office of the Attorney General, which will represent the District and Lanier in the shutdown lawsuit, declined to comment. Barnes’ attorney, Makan Shirafkan, says Lanier’s decision to shutdown Park at 14th didn’t meet the legal standard that a shuttered club be a imminent danger to the public.
Even a year later, Barnes says, he loses out on events because articles about the closure come up in search engine results for his club. And there’s another annoying, albeit less costly, problem: drunk patrons who bring up the closure.
“The first thing people say when they’re intoxicated—’That’s why ya’ll got shutdown,'” Barnes says. “It’s stupid stuff like that.”