Hidden-Camera Investigation: Nightclub Permits Questioned

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Is it a nightclub or a restaurant? The state of California plans to find out.

    Some of the hottest nightclubs in Los Angeles are operating with liquor licenses reserved for restaurants -- although, when NBCLA producers visited with hidden cameras, not every establishment was selling food.

    Read: Letter From Councilman Koretz to Planning Director

    Hidden-Camera Investigation: Nightclub Permits Questioned

    [LA] Hidden-Camera Investigation: Nightclub Permits Questioned
    Some of the hottest nightclubs in Los Angeles are operating with liquor licenses reserved for restaurants -- although, when NBCLA producers visited with hidden cameras, not every establishment was selling food. (Published Friday, Feb 25, 2011)

    Cities and neighborhood groups try to limit the number of bars and nightclubs -- thus making it easier to get a liquor license for a restaurant than it is for a nightclub.

    NBCLA visited several Hollywood clubs licensed as restaurants and tried to order a meal.

    Not every club had something for us to eat.

    NBCLA producers went to Hyde Lounge on Sunset Boulevard three times and couldn't get food, even though according to its liquor license, it's a restaurant.

    On Santa Monica Boulevard, the nightclub Voyeur, which advertises as an upscale strip club, also has a restaurant liquor license. NBCLA producers visited Voyeur's kitchen, but during two trips, we saw it being used for storage and as a changing room for the strippers. The staff told us they don't serve food.

    "Well if they're not serving food, they better start serving food pretty darn fast," said Joseph Cruz, assistant director of the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. "If they're not operating in a bona fide manner -- they're not selling food -- it's a violation of the ABC Act, and we're going to take action against it."

    Violations can lead to the suspension or revocation of an establishment's license, said Cruz.

    At Premiere Supper Club on Las Palmas Avenue, we got two different stories. First, the doorman told us the club did not serve food.

    But later, a manager said the venue sells pizzas. They were small and cost $14 a piece. There was no menu, and no other food for sale, according to a waitress and two bartenders.

    We told owner Vincent Laresca what we found, and he promised it would never happen again.

    When city inspectors and ABC investigators went back to the Premiere Supper Club a few nights ago, they found everything was in compliance. They even had two chefs on staff and a full menu.

    As for Hyde and Voyeur, ABC is currently investigating the two venues. Officials say they cannot comment on active investigations.

    NBCLA made numerous attempts to get comment from Hyde and Voyeur nightclubs, but no one has gotten back to us.