NEAR WEST SIDE — A former NBA player's Near West Side nightclub linked to a fatal shooting this month has been charged with operating without the proper city licenses, city officials say.
The revelation of a pending 2016 license discipline case comes after Mauriaze W. Cossom, a 33-year-old father, was shot dead outside Bobby Simmons' Society 2201 club at 3 a.m. on June 4. Another man, 34, was injured in the shooting.
Opened in 2012 in a largely industrial area at Lake and Leavitt streets, Society has a tavern liquor license, but not a Public Place of Amusement license, meaning the club can't legally charge a cover or host DJs, dancing or music acts, according to Lilia Chacon, a spokeswoman for the city's Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection.
Because of zoning restrictions in the area, Society is not eligible to apply for a PPA license, she said.
In a pending license discipline case, the city has charged that Society's owners have violated those rules, operating without a PPA license on Jan. 24, 2016 and March 26, 2016.
A guilty finding could result in a fine or temporary suspension of the tavern license, Chacon said.
The next hearing in the case is at 9:30 a.m. June 27 in room 805 at City Hall.
In 2014, owners Simmons Entertainment and Marketing LLC were found guilty of operating without a PPA and retail food license, and subsequently fined $1,500, according to city records. The club at 2201 W. Walnut St. also has been cited for failure to post a surgeon general health warning and a sign urging patrons to leave quietly and be good neighbors, Chacon said.
According to online advertisements, the nightclub regularly books DJs, live performances and celebrity appearances, including appearances by Grammy Award-winning R&B singer Mary J. Blige and an after-party for comedian Cedric the Entertainer. And according to reviews on Facebook and Yelp, Society has at times charged a $20 cover.
Chacon said the city's Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection works with Chicago police to enforce license requirements, ensure public safety and address nuisance and quality-of-life issues.
"Private businesses are responsible for complying with the city’s licensing rules and regulations, and as a part of their communities, must work with residents to ensure they are good neighbors," Chacon stated. "When a business operates outside of their licensed activity, trust placed on that business is broken."
On its website, Society 2201 bills itself as an "elite venue for special and private events," that is open from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. Fridays and 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. Saturdays.
Simmons, a Chicago native and former DePaul star who played a decade in the NBA, could not be reached for comment. A Society employee who answered the phone at the club declined to comment.
An Instagram post shows the inside of Society 2201 nightclub on the Near West Side. [Instagram]
An Instagram post shows a crowd outside Society nightclub on the Near West Side. [Instagram]
Now a career counselor at the National Basketball Players Association, Simmons was inducted into the DePaul University Athletic Hall of Fame this year and was recently honored as a 2017 Man of Excellence by the Chicago Defender.
Last week, Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. (27th) confirmed that the fight that led to Cossom's death started inside the club.
"They say some people from that club got into it. They were all folks that didn't live in the neighborhood," Burnett said. "I think they may have allowed somebody to have an event there that caused rough characters to come."
Three bars in Burnett's ward have been forced to close in recent years because of high-profile shootings.
Two shootings near Funky Buddha Lounge in November 2014 prompted the longtime River West bar at 728 W. Grand Ave. to close. In one of the incidents, the shooter worked at the bar, authorities allege.
After a shooting in March 2015 and facing pressure from neighbors, Sawtooth, a restaurant and nightclub at 1350 W. Randolph St. in the West Loop, was forced to close.
In September 2015, police pushed for Red Kiva, a pizza restaurant and nightclub on Randolph, to close after a fatal shooting nearby. Red Kiva has not reopened.