As downtown visitors hustle around Dauphin Street during their Wednesday lunch breaks, they hardly notice an employee at Studio 5’4” standing on a ladder to unscrew the night club’s sign.
By Wednesday afternoon, the windows of the popular downtown nightclub are all covered up and the door is locked indefinitely.
The owner volunteered to shut down the establishment after Mobile police and city officials held several discussions and meetings with them regarding safety in and around the club.
Mobile’s Director of Public Safety Rich Landolt said one of the club’s promoters recently started organizing rowdy block parties outside the establishment that were not permitted by the city. The latest one was Saturday night which escalated to an early morning shooting where two people were injured.
“They had a promoter who was promoting this chaotic environment with illegal block parties,” Landolt said that’s what prompted their investigation. “We saw that there was a lot of underage drinking going on there, bad bar-like behavior. Let me rephrase that, stripper bar-like behavior.” Landolt said that even though the establishment voluntarily closed their doors, he’s still going to pursue revoking their business license.
He said Studio 5’4” cut ties with the promoter who was allegedly orchestrating the block parties, but posts on social media are still popping up about a similar gathering scheduled for this weekend. The promoter, acting outside of the club, lists the event on Facebook as a “protest” instead of a “block party” after he writes that they were unfairly blamed for Saturday night’s shooting.
Police Chief James Barber said they’re keeping on the social media activity. “We are monitoring of course all the social media posts in reference to this. The key thing is to make sure they’re following the law and obeying the law of the ordinances in the city. You’ll also see us roll out what some of those are. I think people think it’s ok to bring alcohol downtown and party, and that’s just not the case,” Barber said.
The Facebook post makes no mention of alcohol, but Barber said you can expect to see a heavier police presence this weekend.
“Because it is Labor Day weekend, you’re going to have enforcement increased throughout the city, but also we will be focused on the downtown area as well; the entertainment district. We’ll be enforcing ordinances and making sure we have an orderly crowd,” Barber said. Police will also have sky tower stations set up for crowd control, similar to what they have at Mardi Gras.
Downtown business owners said the shooting puts them on edge, but Bob’s Downtown Diner owner Tony Sawyer said he’s using it as an opportunity to talk to his staff about safety.
“Absolutely it’s a concern. What we do down here is we always work in tandems. No one leaves the restaurant by themselves. There’s always going to be two people here no matter what. Two’s always better than one,” Sawyer said, adding that he still feels safe and applauds the police for their quick efforts in addressing the situation.