LCB Sets Hearing For Ali Baba Liquor Lounge
WILKES-BARRE — The state Liquor Control Board intends to conduct a license renewal hearing for a downtown nightclub with a history of violent incidents.
The board sent a letter dated Aug. 10 to Nabil Abualburak, owner of Omnia Bar and Ali Baba Liquor Lounge, 219 S. Main St., indicating there were allegations he abused his licensing privilege as outlined in four citations over the past eight years and about 26 disturbances at or in the area of the club over the past two years.
The incidents include disorderly operations, visibly intoxicated patrons, fights, assault, public drunkenness, drugs and after-hours violations.
The club was cited with:
• Allowing patrons to possess or leave the bar with alcoholic beverages after 2:30 a.m. on May 20, 2017.
• Selling take-out beer in excess of 192 fluid ounces in a single sale to one person on March 18 and April 14, 2012.
• Furnishing alcohol to an 18-year-old on March 30, 2012.
• Furnishing alcohol to an 18-year-old on May 13, 2010.
The club is required to stop selling alcohol by 2 a.m. and must remove unconsumed alcohol by 2:30 a.m., but patrons can stay until
7 a.m. because the club has an extended hours food permit, according to LCB spokesman Shawn Kelly.
The letter from the LCB also alleges that the club owners — Nabil M. Abualburak, president, secretary, treasurer, manager; Manal Saleem Daghlas, secretary; and Samer N. Abualburak, treasurer, are “not responsible (people) of good repute and/or have become (persons) of ill repute.” The three are also listed as directors and stockholders.
The club’s license expired Aug. 31, but the club can continue operating through the adjudication process on a temporary license, the LCB letter states. The hearing has yet to be scheduled.
Ali Abualburak, who has identified himself as the club manager, referred comment to attorney Frank Hoegen.
Hoegen said he and the owners/managers will “go to the hearing and tell our side of the tale. You know the old saying, there are two sides to every story. We will present the story of Ali Baba.”
Hoegen said it would be “premature” to summarize what that tale would be.
“Once we start planning for our hearing, we might be able to reveal some of that work,” he said.
The club is facing other woes as well.
City Planning and Zoning Director Bill Harris said in July that his office received complaints that Ali Baba Lounge lacks zoning approval to operate as a nightclub.
Ali Abualburak said at the time that he was in the process of applying for the proper zoning variance, which he didn’t know was necessary.
“I thought it was already taken care of,” Abualbarak said, pointing to his state liquor license, which included an entertainment permit as well as Sunday sales and extended hours food permits.
But Harris said Ali Baba is defined as a nightclub under city ordinance, and the ordinance requires zoning hearing board approval for nightclubs.
The case has not appeared on agendas for the city’s August or September zoning hearings.
Ali Abualburak said in an interview at the club earlier this summer that he goes “above and beyond to maintain the safety of the public” at the lounge. In addition to security who perform pat-downs on patrons upon entry to check for weapons, he hires police details comprised of off-duty city police officers to park outside on busy nights when up to 1,000 patrons are on premise.
Despite any police presence he spoke of, there were more than 30 incidents city police reported as having occurred at the club within the past two years — most recently, a report of shots fired outside the lounge at 2:54 a.m. Sept. 1. And a Brooklyn, New York, man died from a gunshot wound to the head he suffered while in a vehicle in the area of the lounge at around 1:40 a.m. July 19.
Kelly said that when it comes time for a license renewal, “the LCB works with law enforcement both at state and local levels to get their input on whether or not a license should be renewed.”
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ALI BABA INCIDENTS
Wilkes-Barre police reported the following incidents at or near Ali Baba Liquor Lounge since Sept. 1, 2016:
• Sept. 17, 2016, criminal trespass.
• Sept. 10, 2016, disorderly conduct, two men arrested.
• Sept. 11, 2016, public drunkenness, two men cited after fight, held till sober.
• Sept. 30, 2016, disorderly conduct, OC spray used to break up fight outside, no arrests.
• Sept. 30, 2016, public drunkenness, one man cited, held till sober.
• Oct. 1, 2016, public drunkenness, one man cited.
• Oct. 21, 2016, robbery about a block away after victim left club, no arrests.
• Nov. 4, 2016, false ID to law enforcement after attempted entry by 18-year-old, one man charged.
• Nov. 12, 2016, disorderly conduct outside, one woman charged.
• Nov. 27, 2016, aggravated assault, one woman arrested, charged.
• Dec. 18, 2016, simple assault outside after being ejected, one woman arrested, charged.
• Dec. 18, 2016, public drunkenness, one woman cited.
• Dec. 18, 2016, public drunkenness, disorderly conduct, one woman arrested.
• Dec. 25, 2016, shots fired across the street, in front of the Verizon building and in the parking lot next to the Verizon building.
• Dec. 30, 2016, public drunkenness, one man cited after fight outside.
• Jan. 1, 2017, public drunkenness, underage drinking, one man arrested, cited.
• Feb. 2, 2017, public drunkenness, one man cited, held till sober.
• Feb. 16, 2017, disorderly conduct, one man charged.
• Feb. 24, simple assault outside club, one man charged.
• Feb. 26, 2017, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct as leaving club, one woman arrested.
• Feb. 26, 2017, disorderly conduct, public drunkenness, one woman cited.
• March 5, 2017, public drunkenness, one man cited, held till sober.
• March 20, 2017, simple assault inside club about 15 minutes later, no arrest.
• March 20, 2017, simple assault inside club, no arrest.
• March 25, 2017, failure of disorderly persons to disperse, disorderly conduct, marijuana possession, two women, one man arrested.
• March 26, public drunkenness, disorderly conduct, woman arrested, cited.
• July 8, 2017, disorderly conduct, public drunkenness, three women cited.
• Oct. 3, 2017, disorderly conduct, public drunkenness, man cited.
• Nov. 5, 2017, public drunkenness, man cited, held till sober.
• Dec. 17, 2017, public drunkenness, woman cited, held till sober.
• March 31, public drunkenness, woman cited, held till sober.
• March 31, public drunkenness, woman cited, held till sober
• July 14, simple assault, no arrest.
• July 19, aggravated assault/shooting after fight outside, victim died, no arrest.
• July 22, disorderly conduct, one man arrested.
• Aug. 4, public drunkenness, one man cited, held till sober.
• Sept. 1, at least nine shots fired outside, two of them into the vehicle of a victim, no injuries reported.