Fallout from Thursday's surprise police raid of popular Beale Street nightspot Club 152 is threatening to engulf Kevin Kane, the president of the Memphis Convention and Visitors' Bureau.
Kane's financial interest in Club 152 might come under more scrutiny as the owners of that nightspot shut down for
drug activities go before Shelby County Environmental Court Judge Larry Potter on Monday, May 20.
MORE: Drug agents raid Club 152, close club for nuisance: http://www.myfoxmemphis.com/story/22275187/beale-st-club-152-declared-nuisance-closed
The timing couldn't have been worse for the employees, managers and owners of the most rambunctious nightclub in the heart of Beale Street. But, in busting the infamous Club 152 Thursday afternoon, Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich was non-apologetic for pulling the plug after months of undercover investigation.
"We have to do what we have to do based upon the evidence and based upon the information that's presented to us," DAG Weirich said. "Information of repeated drug sales by employees at the club - everything from marijuana, cocaine and pills as well as patrons of the club."
But, perhaps no one was more mortified by the club's closure as a public nuisance than Kane, a longtime investor. Kane has kept a low-key partnership with principal owner Wilbur Hensley and others under the ambiguous umbrella name of Club 152 Operating LLC. The group also owns Blues City Cafe as well.
"What we need to focus on is, regardless of who the owners are, that the law is not a respecter of persons or status or whatever," said Mayor A C Wharton.
Yet, considering its history of assaults, fights and other alleged criminal activities the fact it hadn't been closed by authorities before now is more than just a minor miracle. In 2007 Jeff Sanford, the then-head of the Memphis Center City Commission, was no fan of the nightspot.
"We've had more complaints," Sanford said in 2007. "We've heard more complaints about that particular club than any of the other clubs on Beale Street."
"152 is not different than any other business that we have to patrol," Vince Higgins said 2007. "It's just that the perception at this point is there's a problem there."
It's the perception of the head of the city's tourism effort continuing to hold ownership shares in a troubled nightspot that has, city officials who would come on camera, speaking in measured tones.
"That's a personal decision he's got to make about his own investment, now whether or not to undertake the investment in the first place," said Councilman Lee Harris. "It may raise some impressions, some negative impressions and particularly given the level of cynicism about government."
When asked if Kane should possibly give up his investment in that club for the image, Mayor Wharton said "it all depends."
"A lot of it depends on what goes on from here," the mayor said. "I don't know all the details of it yet. If you recall many times when we've moved on 380 Beale (former Club Crave) folks have said, 'what about those other folks down there?' We're not the only ones. It just goes to show you that we don't pick and choose."
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