Burning issue: Cops called again to hookah lounge to quell unruly crowd
Police were called to the Sky Hookah Lounge early Sunday morning after a large fight was reported outside the smoking lounge, the 11th time so far this year that officers have been dispatched to the Kings Highway East establishment.
There were no arrests made during Sunday's incident, police Sgt. Suzanne Lussier said, and the large crowd on Berwick Avenue began to disperse when officers arrived just before 2 a.m.
Lussier said police were told that someone may have put a gun in the trunk of a white car parked near the lounge prior to the police arrival, but none was found. Three was also a report of a rock being thrown.
She said everyone was then sent home.
The few state regulations governing hookah lounges require that patrons must be 18 years old to smoke the water pipes that are the signature of those establishments. Hookah lounges cannot serve food or alcohol, but patrons can bring their own liquor.
Douglas Huron, an assistant to Sky owner Anwar Malas, said Monday that reports of a physical fight were not true. "It was a verbal dispute outside Sky," Huron said, adding that the lounge's owner and management make efforts to cooperate with police and neighbors. No rocks or bottles were thrown, he said, contrary to some reports.
Since the Sky Hookah Lounge opened in 2009, Lussier said police have been sent to the place 70 times. The Casablanca Hookah Lounge on the Post Road was shut down last year by the Fire Department for a variety of code and safety violations.
"We worked with the Health and Fire departments in that case," Lussier said, after an investigation into the Post Road lounge was initiated when officials received complaints about underage drinking and drug use there. The Casablanca lounge remains closed.
"We have not had the same types of calls at Sky," she said. "Those have been calls about disturbances."
On Feb. 25, police received a call from Malas asked for help in clearing a large crowd out of his establishment and shutting it down for the night.
According to the report, Malas said people inside the hookah lounge were being unruly and some were poised for a fight.
"In that case, a party bus with a group of people had come into Sky," Huron said, and were intoxicated and began causing problems. "We decided to call police on our own. Again, no punches were thrown. When it comes to that kind of stuff, we try to cooperate with police."
Huron said Sky Hookah management is strict about checking IDs, and will keep an eye on those who bring alcohol to make sure it is not being consumed by underage patrons. "We walk around and keep an eye on people," he said, and if they see a patron they believe to be under 21 drinking alcohol from a container that originally contained a soft drink, the alcohol will be confiscated and the patron ejected.
Since Casablanca and another hookah lounge in Bridgeport have closed, Huron said, customers from those establishments have been patronizing Sky, expecting the same type of behavior to be allowed. "You can't always control the public coming in," he said.
Huron said Sky is not doing anything illegal. "We've been investigated, we've been raided," he said, and nothing against the law was discovered.
Police calls to another hookah lounge in Fairfield -- Beans and Leaves on Black Rock Turnpike -- have been minimal, Lussier said, and have mainly been false alarm calls, typical for a commercial establishment.
Sky Hookah lists its hours on its Facebook page as 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. Mondays through Wednesdays, 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Thursdays, 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 7 p.m. to midnight Sundays.
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