Roo-Bar Lounge and the City of Denver have reached a settlement agreement that will result in the demise of hip-hop club Roo-Bar as it currently exists.
In November 2022, the Denver Department of Excise & Licenses sent registered Roo-Bar owners Jugurta Tighrine and Danny Safieddine an order to show cause, notifying them that they would need to respond to allegations that the venue allowed disorderly conduct and had unlicensed security guards on the scene.
"They don’t want hip-hop. They think they are going to cause trouble," Tighrine told Westword at the time.
Roo-Bar, which currently sits at 3480 Park Avenue West, has gone through several iterations and locations over the past two decades; over that same period, many hip-hop clubs have come and gone in Denver. Some, such as Beta Event Center, were shut down by the city.
Also in November, Safieddine said he shouldn't be listed on the liquor license anymore, since he and Tighrine submitted a corporate structure change notice to the city in May 2022 indicating that Safieddine, who had been the majority owner, was dropping his ownership share down to 9 percent, which is below the 10 percent threshold that requires an owner to be included on the liquor license
That change application was never approved by Excise & Licenses, however.
"All pending applications are on hold due to the pending show-cause order," Eric Escudero, spokesperson for Excise & Licenses, told Westword. Roo-Bar Lounge has since submitted two more change applications, with the last one coming in late August and stating that Tighrine was the 100 percent owner.
But those applications were not approved, either, and now neither Tighrine nor Safieddine will be allowed to remain as the owner of the bar. According to the settlement, which was approved by Excise & Licenses Executive Director Molly Duplechian on February 3, Tighrine will have 120 days to completely transfer ownership of the licenses.
The city must approve the transfer of the licenses, and the recipient of the transfer can’t be anyone related to Tighrine or anyone else who has been previously associated with Roo-Bar.
The decision comes after the show-cause order described multiple violations of fights at the club and poor management of the flow of patrons in and out. There were also several incidents of shots being fired in the vicinity of the club, including the parking lot.
"As you know, people are fighting inside the airport, inside planes, everywhere. I saw a fight on the train, the one to the airport," Tighrine said in November.
The Denver City Attorney's Office attempted to get Roo-Bar Lounge declared a public nuisance, and the bar was closed temporarily. But in October 2022, a judge lifted the city's temporary restraining order, allowing Roo-Bar to continue operating — but problems persisted.
Still, according to Escudero, the city’s goal isn’t to revoke licenses but to create compliance, which is why the city settled the case rather than going to a formal hearing or terminating the licenses permanently.
However, the liquor license will be held in abeyance for a year. If there are any other violations of city or state rules, the new licensee will be subject to license revocation in a hearing in front of the Denver Hearing Office, similar to a court case.
“Consequences for unlawful conduct can’t be avoided in Denver by simply transferring a liquor license to a new owner,” Escudero notes.
The new license will also be subject to five conditions described in the settlement agreement, including implementing a security policy with properly licensed security guards who will pat down and use a handheld metal detector on each patron, and a minimum of five licensed security guards — or off-duty Denver Police Department police officers — during business hours.
Additionally, all back and side entrances must be secured, patrons may not be readmitted once they leave the building, and a dress code that prohibits gang-affiliated, “names, insignia, lettering, or other gang identifying markings,” must be in place.
Failure to do that will result in an Order of Non-Compliance and further legal action.