La Copa owner attempts “night club” sale
by Chuck Hoven
(Plain Press, August 2007) Despite a ruling by the Board of Zoning Appeals that La Copa cannot operate as a nightclub, the owner of La Copa offered the business for sale as a nightclub in a public auction. The auctioneer was apparently an unwitting participant in this attempted fraud.
In a July 1st Plain Dealer advertisement for the auction of La Copa, the ad titled “Night Club Auction” stated “Night Club located in Cleveland, Ohio. Included is a liquor license, D.J. booth & dance floor. Fully equipped, turn key operation currently still doing business.”
On July 3rd, the public auction was held for La Copa at 2704 Clark Avenue. Auctioneer Rodney Hoskin of Buddy’s Auctions and Liquidations told those assembled that the entire newly remodeled facility with full bar, DJ booth and dance floor was being auctioned off along with the liquor license. Hoskin said the purchasers of the business would also assume responsibility for remainder of the 2 1/2 year lease on the facility at a rent of $3,460 per month.
Hoskin said the sale would amount to a “turn key operation” of an existing business. He said there were no violations on the liquor license and everything was in working condition.
During the course of the auction, Hoskin repeatedly referred to Raed Sadik as the owner of La Copa Sports Bar. In previous public meetings, Sadik has denied being the owner, insisting he was simply being supportive of his girlfriend, who was the owner of the bar. Sadik only recently admitted to being the manager of La Copa, while on trial for violations of state liquor laws, for which he is now on probation. Gennie Rodriguez, who has previously presented herself as the owner of La Copa, was not present at the auction.
Hoskin said a previously held sealed bid auction resulted in a bid of $52,000. Therefore, the bids at this public auction would start at $53,000. Referring to Sadik, he said the owner had invested $110,000 in renovating the facility and was not happy with the bid from the sealed auction. The auctioneer said the owner, Sadik, would negotiate with whoever was the high bidder. He said he hoped the deal could be done at the auction, with the high bidder putting down 10% and the balance due in 30 days.
Five people attended the auction, including this reporter. Several of those in attendance were involved with local clubs or bars (an employee of El Tropical and a representative of San Lorenzo) and asked a number of questions about the operation. One auction attendee wanted to double-check the status of the liquor license. He asked auctioneer Hoskins if there were charges on the license. Hoskin said, “There is nothing on the license.” He then asked Sadik to confirm that, Sadik said, “Nothing.”
However, a check of the website of the Ohio Department of Public Safety (the enforcement arm of the Ohio Division of Liquor Control) indicates that on May 3, 2007, La Copa Sports Bar was charged with a violation of State Liquor laws for “purchase for resale from other than an A or B permit holder.”
Auctioneer Hoskin did indicate that while the contract at the auction was binding, if anything presented at the auction was not as presented, there would be “no deal”. “It would be up to the owners to make good,” he said.
Another attendee, noting the high monthly payment and short term of the lease, asked if the owner of the building would be willing to renegotiate and extend the lease. Sadik said he believed there was a five-year option to the lease. He said he would have to check with Rodriguez, the holder of the lease, about the owner’s willingness to work a longer term.
Another attendee asked about parking for the facility. Sadik and the auctioneer indicated there were about 150 spaces. Asked if there were any restrictions on the parking, Sadik said there were “no restrictions.”
Despite several attempts by the auctioneer to solicit a bid, no one was willing to bid above the amount of the sealed bidder. If there were no additional bids, Hoskin said Sadik would negotiate with the person who had made the sealed bid of $52,000.
With the auction stalled, Raed Sadik added some drama by revealing the presence of a news reporter at the meeting and attempted to put pressure on the reporter to leave.
The reporter, who had been silent up to that point, asked the auctioneer several questions. He asked the auctioneer if he thought the ad in the Plain Dealer listing a DJ booth was deceptive. Auctioneer Hoskins said pointing to the booth, “There is a D.J. booth.” Asked if he was aware that the club did not have the proper variance to have a DJ, Auctioneer Hoskins, “no, I was not aware of that.”
Those in attendance began to get up to leave. As people were leaving, Sadik suggested that the reason the variance wasn’t approved was that he wouldn’t pay off former Ward 14 Councilman Nelson Cintron, Jr.
However, the Board of Zoning Appeals denied the variance appeal after Cintron had left office. La Copa received support for its appeal from Ward 14 Councilman Joe Santiago at the BOZA hearing. The Board of Zoning Appeals instead listened to strong arguments by the City of Cleveland and area residents and stakeholders in denying the variance.
As explained to La Copa’s representatives by city officials at public hearings, the denial of the variance to be a nightclub means the club cannot have live acts, a DJ or dancing. It was also explained that the ruling goes with the property – the law prohibits any future business owner from operating a nightclub at that location.
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