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Looking Back / The story after the story At struggling Tralf, will the shows go on?

The Tralf has fallen mostly dark, but the owner of the downtown nightclub insists it will reopen in mid-January.

The club has hosted only a handful of shows since Halloween and has only one scheduled for the balance of December.

Club owner Rohit Kapoor said his club got off to a rough start after opening for the season Sept. 15.

"It was a difficult start of the year," he said. "Right now we're trying to make good decisions so that things work out in the long run."

The Tralf opened the weekend of Curtain Up! and staged shows through the end of October, although attendance at some events was disappointing and some concerts were canceled. Kapoor said he also has had considerable turnover in his staff, including the departure of his club manager. Media coverage of the club's problems has hurt, he said.

Comedian Robert Klein is scheduled to perform Saturday, and Kapoor said the club may book another event or two through the end of the year. His focus is on installing a sound and lighting system in anticipation of full operations the middle of next month.

In the meantime, he said, "I'm trying to be careful. I don't want to be wasting money."

The club, located on Main Street in the Theater District, has experienced problems since Kapoor took over in the summer of 2004. It has lost money, had trouble meeting payroll and been delinquent paying off numerous vendors. The Tralf also fell out of favor with some performers and their agents because of payment issues.

Kapoor also has had problems with the city. He failed to pay off a city loan until the matter was turned over to a collections attorney. He also failed to obtain building permits and business licenses and ignored orders from the city last spring to close until the necessary approvals were obtained.

Kapoor only got the permits and licenses in September, after city officials told him they would not allow the club to reopen for the fall season without them.

That resulted in a frantic effort that included the correction of some 20 building code violations. While he has obtained licenses that allow him to operate a restaurant and stage live shows, Kapoor has not applied for a license that permits dancing.

e-mail: jheaney@buffnews.com

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