After hearing from top cops who branded the club a “disorderly establishment,” the state Liquor Control Commission has denied a license renewal request from the Lazy Lizard Cafe.
The commission handed down its decision about the club at 201 Crown St. on Tuesday.
It represented the latest episode in New Haven officials’ efforts to quiet the downtown club district.
In its decision, the commission stated it it found testimony by Assistant Police Chief Luiz Casanova particularly “clear and credible.” Casanova testified about a May 18, 2013. “huge brawl” inside the club that led to the shooting deaths of two young men immediately outside it. Club owner Anthony Delmonaco “‘hindered the investigation’ with regard to the video footage and ‘didn’t cooperate to what we would have liked for him to have cooperated.’”
The decision also noticed three people were stabbed, one fatally, during a fight inside the club on Nov. 28, 2009.
The decision was signed by Commissioners Elisa A. Nahas, Angelo J. Faenza, and Stephen R. Somma. Click here to read it.
The commission heard from a neighbor who complained about noise and trouble at the club; and from a liquor control agent who reported on two citations over the past two years at the club for serving alcohol to minors. Police Chief Dean Esserman wrote to the commission asked it to reject the license because of the “club’s track record of violations and violent incidents.” Top Downtown cop Sgt. Tammi Means joined Casanova and neighbors in speaking at the commission’s administrative hearing on the license renewal, which took place March 27.
Members of the DelMonaco family have owned the club since 2001, originally operation it as SciFi Cafe. Maria DelMonaco spoke at the commission’s hearing. The owners—since 2009 doing business as MAD Crown Street Holdings LLC—argue that they have run the club responsibly and that the city has targeted them because they host events geared toward African-American patrons.
The family said Wednesday it would wait to speak with its lawyers before commenting on the license renewal rejection.
New Haven officials have been pressing state officials, and the liquor commission in particular, for help in dealing with violence in and near nightclubs in town. New Haven state Rep. Roland Lemar had pushed in 2011 for a measure allowing the public to weigh in on license renewals; thanks to that process, the “public voice was heard” in the Lazy Lizard decision, Lemar was quoted in a statement his office released Wednesday afternoon. He called the decision “a clear victory for downtown residents, neighbors and responsible business owners in our district. ... This is
exactly what we had in mind when I introduced the bill in 2011.”
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who’s running for reelection this year, praised the Lazy Lizard decision in a press release issued Wednesday. We will not tolerate establishments that turn a blind eye to the safety of their patrons,” Malloy was quoted as saying. “If violence becomes a problem, the owners have a responsibility to take the necessary steps to ensure that the proper security is in place.