The DNAinfo archives brought to you by WNYC.
Read the press release here.

Fed-Up Chocolate Factory Residents Attempt to Shut Down Club Touche

By Janet Upadhye | March 8, 2013 8:09am

CLINTON HILL — Members of Community Board 2 were shocked to hear residents complain of stabbings, gunshots, broken bottles, obscene flyers, domestic violence and public urination at Club Touché in Clinton Hill.

"Where is this club again?" asked chairperson Ruth Saunders at the board meeting Wednesday night. "This situation sounds awful."

After months of frustration, residents of the old The Chocolate Factory, located half a block from the club, are attempting to have the club's liquor license revoked.

"Something needs to be done," said Renae Holland who has called 311 four times in the last two months to report fights and gunshots. "We are afraid to stand near the windows."

Holland and a group of residents asked the board for help in having the club's liquor license revoked.

Touché's license currently expires on Aug. 31, 2013 but Holland calls the controversy at Touché "serious and chronic" and wants to see action before then.

While some board members were hearing the allegations for the first time, others already informed of the situation told the group that council member Letitia James and the 88th Precinct are aware of and working on the problem.

They also advised the group to be proactive and notify the State Liquor Authority.

"The SLA can suspend their license before its expiration date if there is proof of violence at the club," said Community Board 2 staff member Carol-Ann Church. "So make sure to document all of your complaints and calls to the police."

Club owner John Ricci is pained at the prospect of losing his liquor license.

"We understand that the neighbors are upset," said owner John Ricci. "And we are working extensively with the NYPD to address the problems."

But Ricci believes that many of the complaints are "exaggerations and fabrications."

He said that Touché is a place where locals let off steam, gay and lesbian groups have parties, Spike Lee hosts events, and is the only venue of its kind in the neighborhood.

Patron Michael S-K McKinney hosts events at Touché to talk about community empowerment, anti-gun violence and mental health issues. He calls the venue "a credit to the community."

Ricci also said that he personally stands outside the club at closing time to disperse the crowds, call cabs, and clean up any mess left behind.

Still, the 88th Precinct documented four arrests, 24 Criminal Court summonses, 22 stop-and-frisks of suspicious persons and 17 referrals to the State Liquor Authority outside the club since October of last year.

Capt. Scott Henderson wrote in an email, "This represents a great deal of sparse resources that I have devoted to ONE location in a precinct covering 1.4 square miles."

But Holland and other residents at the The Chocolate Factory say that club owners and the NYPD are not doing enough to curb the violence.

"The next time shots are fired they may hit someone," said Danelle Davis, manager of The Chocolate Factory. "We cannot wait around for that to happen — we have families living here."