BATON ROUGE, LA. (BRPROUD) – City leaders held a community meeting after receiving a petition from business owners in the area to not open Club Dreams off of Dallas Drive.
On Monday, Nov. 6, Councilman Cleve Dunn Jr. held a community meeting for business owners in the Choctaw Business District and the new operator of Club Dreams, Kevin Monje to discuss the future of the building.
BRPROUD was asked by the business owners and managers to attend the meeting but was locked out by Dunn’s team.
From outside the doors, people could be heard arguing about the future of the club and the investment Monje had made in the building.
A few weeks ago, the EBR Metro Council suggested that Monje open a restaurant instead of a nightclub. This was after Monje had invested more than $100,000 into the building before permits were approved.
Once the meeting was over, BRPROUD asked questions to Dunn and those who are involved in the Choctaw Business Neighborhood Coalition. The group of business owners and managers near the club started the petition.
Dunn confirmed that Club Dreams will no longer be reopened as a nightclub. However, Dunn proposed to Monje to bring to the metro council a business plan to open a restaurant. The plan would have to include hours of operation and that 50% of all sales are food.
“Sometimes it’s approved as is, sometimes there’s adjustments and a compromise is made and that’s what this conversation was about, to see if there was an opportunity for a compromise,” said Dunn.
Tiffany Anthony is the director of enterprise for Uplifted, a rehabilitation center just down the street from the club. She said Monje left the meeting “very upset and he just basically said that he was just going to quit.”
Anthony said those in her coalition remember what the club was like 20 years ago and believe crime will escalate if the building reopens with permission to sell alcohol.
Inside the meeting, Anthony and many of the owners told Monje that opening the building is a “bad investment” and that he needed to “take the money and run.”
“He basically said no matter what you call it, whether you call it a bar, a nightclub or a restaurant, he’s going to operate it like a nightclub,” said Anthony.
Dunn said he recognizes that Monje is trying to run a business but concerns about the history cause a lot of anxiety for those in the area.
“I’m sensitive to that, but this is the process, you know, we have discussions.” said Dunn.
Anthony and the other members think the meeting wasn’t handled well for Monje.
“Honestly, I don’t believe this was a very fair meeting to the applicant, Kevin,” said Anthony.
For now, the coalition group said it is working to make the district a stronger place.
“We are supporting our neighborhood, we are not going back to the way old things were,” said Anthony
Monje has until Friday, Nov. 10 to present plans to Dunn about opening a restaurant. This debate will be discussed at the Metropolitan Council Zoning Meeting at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 15.