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San Diego City Attorney's Office announces shutdown of illegal nightclub in Rolando

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Posted at 11:30 AM, Jul 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-15 10:09:33-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) – A Rolando nightclub that garnered numerous complaints of illegal gaming, underage strippers, and noise was shut down by the City of San Diego, officials announced Thursday.

In a news release, City Attorney Mara Elliott and her office said a final judgment was obtained in a case against the operators of Empire Gaming Lounge and the property owners of the venue on Cartagena Drive where the business held events.

The City Attorney’s Office stated:

“The Empire Gaming Lounge opened inside a warehouse at 4178 Cartagena Drive in 2019 without a San Diego Business Tax Certificate, which is required of all businesses in the City. Nor did the business have an entertainment permit for live music or a conditional use permit, which would be required for an entertainment venue in an industrial zone near a residential area.

The club stayed open even after the City, County, and State declared a health emergency in March 2020 requiring restaurants, bars, and entertainment venues to close. During that time, Empire Gaming continued to advertise on social media as a venue offering food and alcohol, video game tournaments, a hookah lounge, and special events. Neighboring residents repeatedly complained of noise, late-night parties, and illegal activity at the location.

The first complaints about the venue came to the City’s Code Enforcement Division in March 2018 and concerned illegal construction, including the building of platforms for booths and a stage for a disc jockey, all without permits.”

According to the City Attorney’s Office, Empire Gaming Lounge began operating in September 2019, using Instagram and Facebook to promote its parties and events.

From that point to May 2021, the city received dozens of neighborhood complaints about the establishment regarding loud music, late-night partying, and disturbances such as screaming and tire squealing that lasted into the early morning hours.

Officials also said San Diego Police were called over reports of fireworks, drug use and underage alcohol consumption during a New Year’s Eve party in 2020.

The following day, at a New Year’s Day party, officers responded to reports of underage strippers present at the event.

City officials said two weeks later, complaints regarding a party led to “the arrest of a felon in illegal possession of a gun.”

“The San Diego Police Department estimates its officers spent more than 94 hours responding to calls at that location,” officials noted.

The business also continued holding events during the state’s stay-home requirement in March 2020, despite posting a message on Instagram saying it would not host events until further notice.

Officials added, "On June 2, the owners of the warehouse, Yael and David Alpert, agreed to a permanent injunction prohibiting operation of the venue and requiring them to bring the property up to code. They agreed to pay the City’s investigative costs of $1,655 and $75,000 in civil penalties, with $50,000 of that amount suspended, pending satisfactory completion of the other requirements of the settlement.”

Click here to read the City Attorney's Office full news release.