Around the Scene: July 23, 2009

City of Angels hospitality impresario Sam Nazarian is really flying high these days. No, we’re not talking about the ongoing success he is having at Hollywood hotspots Hyde and Foxtail, nor the popularity of his recently opened SLS Hotel. Last week, the Iranian-born entrepreneur was appointed to the Board of Airport Commissioners by Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. While he still needs City Council confirmation, his role would address critical issues to LAX, including declining air traffic and overhaul of the international terminal. In a press release, Nazarian said his goal for the airport was to make it “one of the greatest airports in the world,” adding, “In a time where the challenges of global travel continue to rise, it is crucial to continually improve our vital gateway to the world.”

Both Marquee Nightclub and singer Janet Jackson have been released from a $12-million lawsuit filed by a Bronx, N.Y., club patron who claims he was beaten up by Jackson’s security detail while partying at the Meatpacking magnet. Supreme Court Justice Jane Solomon stated in her decision that the incident began when the plaintiff, Leonard Salati, tried to slip Jackson his phone number — at least he’s an optimist — while other reports say he also tried to kiss her on the cheek. Solomon stated in her decision that there was no evidence Jackson ordered the beat down nor that the club hired security guards with “dangerous or hostile tendencies.” Upon hearing the decision, Salati’s lawyer stated that, pending an appeal, neither party would be part of the case that will continue against the two security firms that are contracted by Marquee.

The former tour manager for Bon Jovi and Pauly Shore, manager of The Comedy Store, talent buyer for House of Blues and Clear Channel Entertainment and founder of award-winning Elements, The Lounge in Sea Bright, N.J., in 2003, is channeling all that experience into his latest venture, 84 Park in Stamford, Conn. Featuring sleek design, fine wines, Martinis and bottle service, the venue’s soft opening this summer earned Matthew Bongiovi — yes, he’s Jon Bon Jovi’s brother — rave reviews, prompting observers to wonder if it will achieve notoriety similar to Elements, which garnered Nightclub & Bar Concept of the Year recognition in 2003 and, since morphing into a steakhouse with a hot late-night lounge vibe, “Jersey Shore Hot Spot” from the New York Times and “Best Singles Scene” in New Jersey from AOL City Search. Stay tuned…

Shawn Donovan, co-owner of a Boston nightclub, is being charged under a witness-intimidation statute of Suffolk County law after he allegedly told a photographer to destroy a picture of him arm in arm with Mario Mendez, a patron who later fired five gunshots at another patron he argued with inside the venue. The incident took place at Donovan’s Revolution Rock Bar & Lounge and external surveillance cameras apparently show Mendez entering the nightclub and firing his handgun upon exiting. The victim survived. According to police, Donovan also lied about his relationship with Mendez, saying he did not know him. Mendez has pleaded not guilty in the charges stemming from the shooting. Donovan will be arraigned on Aug. 10.

Across the border in the Great White North, Vancouver, B.C., partiers are preparing to say goodbye to one of the city’s last remaining holdouts from clubs days past when Richard’s on Richards closes this weekend in preparation for a new location. The club, which was opened in the early ‘80s by Bruce Allen, Bryan Adams’ longtime manager, played a dual role: a happening live music venue while also a chic spot that beautiful British Columbians liked to call home. The club’s new digs will remain in the downtown core, but the new 30,000-square-foot, three-level Richard’s will remind few of its predecessor. Reports have construction costs nearing the $4 million mark and partners are whispering about a 6,000-square-foot unisex basement bathroom, complete with its own dance floor and bar. This should be interesting…

At last weekend’s third annual Philly Hip Hop Awards in the city of brotherly love, adult entertainment venue Club Onyx Philadelphia was named the winner in the Top Nightclub category. Eight months after the club was converted from a Rick’s Cabaret outpost to an upscale hip-hop gentlemen’s club, the 25,000-square-foot venue continued the trend of successful conversions that previously launched Club Onyx outlets in Charlotte and Dallas. Rick’s Cabaret owns multiple adult entertainment concepts around the country but still was excited about taking home the Top Nightclub crown. "African-American gentlemen have responded enthusiastically to the Club Onyx concept, which provides a first-class, upscale environment, terrific entertainment by beautiful women, warm hospitality and great food,” said Rick’s director of operations Ed Anakar. "We are honored to have been voted Best Nightclub in Philadelphia after being opened for such a short time, but it just shows how well the concept has caught on in Philly.”

Members of the Memphis Police Department’s Organized Crime Unit shut down two Memphis area nightclubs last weekend after district attorney Bill Gibbons filed public nuisance actions against the owners of Hughes Uptown and High Point Pinch Bar & Grill. According to the filed petitions, Memphis police officers were called to Hughes Uptown more than 80 times between March 2008 and March 2009 on complaints ranging from shootings and robberies to drug usage and thefts. Additionally, undercover officers reported observing drug use within the venue and patrons consuming alcohol outside of the venue.

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