Authorities have shut down the West Philadelphia bar that was the site of a triple shooting at the end of August.
The Philadelphia Office of Licenses and Inspections posted a cease operations notice on the door of the Watusi Lounge, located at 4600 Walnut St., on Friday. The notice cited the expiration of the bar’s food license as the reason for the shutdown.
The notice came only six days after the triple shooting next to the bar’s entrance on Aug. 31. The Philadelphia police are still investigating the incident.
According to Licenses and Inspections records, the bar’s food license expired in April 2007.
When the office received a complaint about the expired food license, it gave notice to the owner of the property that it would force the bar to close unless an updated license was obtained, Licenses and Inspections spokesperson Rebecca Swanson said. When that didn’t happen, the office posted the order.
The property — which also houses apartments — has been issued numerous violations by Licenses and Inspections, though not all have been related to the bar.
According to the Philadelphia Business Services website, any establishment serving or preparing food must have a valid food license — which costs $300 for establishments serving under 50 people. Licenses and Inspections issues food licenses on behalf of the Health Department, which must approve.
Licenses and Inspections relies on the community to notify it of expired licenses. “The responsibility [to obtain licenses] is on the property owner,” Swanson said. “Property ownership is a privilege, not a right.”
The bar will not be able to reopen until a valid food license is issued. Licenses and Inspections will make periodic checks to ensure compliance, though Swanson also encouraged residents to report activity at the bar.
“If he opens, he’s breaking the law, and residents or anyone who sees him open should call the police,” she said.
Watusi’s owner, Noel Karasanyi, also owns two other neighborhood bars. Watusi II, at 45th and Locust streets, and The Third World Lounge, at 49th Street and Baltimore Avenue, have both been called into scrutiny by residents and Philadelphia law enforcement. During a neighborhood meeting two weeks ago, residents presented testimony of noise, violence and drug trade at Watusi II.
Correction: A previous version of this article stated that the bar remained open despite 18 code violations. There were 8 cases listed on the Licenses and Inspections website, and not all pertained to the activity at the bar. Licenses and Inspections does not have the authority to order cease operations notices for businesses because of violations in other parts of the building.Comments powered by Disqus
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