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Town Ballroom aims for approval to reopen

The city has temporarily shut down the Town Ballroom, 681 Main St., for operating without a license, but its owner says he hopes to reopen the Theater District nightclub in time for a Wednesday concert.

Inspectors scrutinized the club's operations after police complained about the conduct of some patrons, said Richard M. Tobe, commissioner of economic development, permit and inspection services. They found numerous code violations, which Artie Kwitchoff, the owner, said have since been corrected.

Tobe described the crackdown as part of a broader effort to ensure that businesses comply with regulations and do not burden their neighborhoods.

The shutdown order, issued earlier this month, forced the postponement of Friday's concert featuring Sloan. The Canadian rock band has been rescheduled for March 13.

Kwitchoff got into further problems when he decided to hold a private party in the club Jan. 12, after the city had ordered it closed. Kwitchoff got into a dispute with a police officer and was charged with obstruction. The charges were dismissed last Friday.

Kwitchoff insisted that he was unaware his business never obtained all required licenses, blaming part of the problem on a license-renewal notice sent by the city in 2005.

City officials said the notice was mailed inadvertently, since the Town Ballroom had not obtained the required restaurant dance license when new owners took over in the fall of 2005.

Last month's inspection found such violations as problems with a rear entrance and a sprinkler system that didn't comply with new codes.

Kwitchoff said he believes all problems have been resolved. Fire inspectors visited the property again Monday, and Tobe said building inspectors were due to check it out today.

Tobe said he will take the Police Department's issues into account before deciding whether he will send the Town Ballroom's license application to the Common Council for possible action at today's meeting.

Tobe said officers have complained about numerous "behavioral issues" involving some Town Ballroom patrons. Kwitchoff said he thinks the complaints are unfounded.

Kwitchoff expressed hope that license officials, police and the Council would pave the way for the Town Ballroom to reopen Wednesday, when singer-songwriter Melissa Ferrick is scheduled to appear. He added that he understands the city's desire to make sure all businesses comply with regulations.

"We have no problem with that. But if they're going to be raising standards, let's make it uniform and include everyone," Kwitchoff said.


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