State Liquor Authority Launches Investigation of Club Touché

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(Photo by Tiffany Camhi)

The front of Club Touché is quiet during the day, but at night the scene changes, according to local residents. (Photo by Tiffany Camhi)

By Priscila Ortiz and Tiffany Camhi

Amid complaints of everything from gunshots and knife play to drunkenness and loitering involving patrons of Clinton Hill’s controversial Club Touché, the State Liquor Authority has launched an investigation to determine whether to revoke the nightclub’s liquor license, sources told The Nabe.

The club advertises itself on its website as “stylishly sleek and elegantly timeless,” and its motto is “You belong here.”

But its neighbors, including residents of the upscale loft complex known as the Chocolate Factory and several local businesses, say Club Touché does not belong in the quiet, residential neighborhood.

Local residents cite shootings around the club last September and February, and say they have filed numerous complaints with the city’s 311 hotline, Community Board 2, the 88th Precinct and virtually every elected official in the neighborhood.

“We have witnessed countless violent crimes and dealt with the disgusting mess of vomit, broken glass and obscene flyers that litter the streets of our otherwise quiet neighborhood,” Chocolate Factory resident Renae Holland wrote in a letter to SLA Commissioner Dennis Rosen last month.

Holland, 31, told Rosen she witnessed a shooting “right outside my window … while the club was letting out” last Sept. 22. Then on Feb. 2, she said, she reported a man firing a gun as he left Club Touché to the 311 hotline.

The call was recorded in 311 logs as a complaint of “loud talking,” records show.

A man in a blue sweatshirt fired a shot across the street on Washington Avenue as he was leaving Club Touché on Feb. 2. The entire scene was caught on the Chocolate Factory's security camera. (Photo courtesy of Danelle Davis, Chocolate Factory property manager)

A man in a blue sweatshirt fired a shot across the street on Washington Avenue as he was leaving Club Touché on Feb. 2. The entire scene was caught on the Chocolate Factory’s security camera. (Photo courtesy of Danelle Davis, Chocolate Factory property manager)

Still, since then, police have assigned a patrol car outside the club at closing time “to make sure everybody gets out expeditiously, leaves the location and there are no incidents there,” according to an 88th Precinct community affairs officer.

“We’ve been working with the 88th Precinct and elected officials to monitor the [Club Touché] situation and bring a larger police presence in the area,” said Community Board Manager Rob Perris.

But the situation hasn’t improved much, according to some local residents and business owners.

Maria Velez, owner of Mojito Cuban Cuisine, a popular restaurant on the block, said incidents outside Touché have increased over the past six to eight months.

“Every single weekend, there’s an incident,” said Ms. Velez. “Someone gets robbed or we find bottles or people are walking by drunk.”

Club co-owner Mini Dhingra said she is aware of the complaints but noted that the site is zoned for a nightclub.

“It’s a club, you know,” she told The Nabe. “People are here to have fun, and they’re responsible. We try to be the most responsible we can be within our limits.”

She said the club hired an extra security guard to patrol the block in the last half hour to 45 minutes before the 4 a.m. closing — “just to make sure there’s no loitering, no screaming” — and that she and her employees sweep up trash left by clubgoers after closing time.

“Beyond that,” Ms. Dinghra said, “if people are walking towards mass transit and they’re two blocks away there’s little control we have over that.”

She said she “would love to have a dialogue” with complaining locals. “We’re on the block, we’re neighbors, let’s talk,” she said.

Said Chocolate Factory property manager Danelle Davis: “I’m sure they want to talk now because we’re bringing all this attention to them. If they think we’re just gonna back off … we’re not. This is our neighborhood and this type of situation is unacceptable.”

The Chocolate Factory, on the corner of Washington Avenue and Park Avenue, is just steps away from Club Touché. (Photo by Tiffany Camhi)

The Chocolate Factory, on the corner of Washington Avenue and Park Avenue, is just steps away from Club Touché. (Photo by Tiffany Camhi)