A Hinesville nightclub is drawing complaints from neighboring business owners.
Members of Hinesville city council listened to the complaints Thursday about Cream Sportsbar and Lounge.
Mayank Patel, owner of the Econo Lodge, Kiran Patel, owner of America’s Best Value Inn and Bernard Martin, general manager of Boots Bar and Grill, who also spoke on behalf of Big Apple, said he and his fellow had three main concerns—safety, parking and noise.
Mayank Patel said noise coming from Cream is turning customers away from his business, also making Hinesville lose revenue.
"We’ve done numerous refunds and guests walk right back out," Mayank Patel said. "The issue I have is safety. I’ve had (people) that go to the bar be aggressive to us and my staff. For example last weekend, I told someone if you park here (at Econo) you will be towed, and he started getting aggressive toward us."
Kiran Patel said he’s also had to give out of town guests refunds because of the noise. He said there are police cars located on the properties and when Cream closes the police flash their blue lights, giving customers the impression that an incident is going on. Bernard agreed but commended the officers for doing a good job.
Martin said Cream has a parking lot and when customers go through the front entrance next to Big Apple, they are "very belligerent." He said the owner of Big Apple has gotten bomb threats from towing vehicles and there is no place for her customers to park.
Martin insisted he was not blaming the business owner and was looking for assistance from the council.
The city council then asked the business owners questions.
Councilmember Keith Jenkins asked if the sound at JJ’s Bar and Grill, located inside the Econo, travels to other rooms in the hotel. Mayank Patel said no and the noise from Cream
Kiran Patel mentioned an incident where the police responded to a fight in the parking lot and used a TASER in front of his customers.
He said he saw someone standing outside with a shotgun and crowds have antagonized the police.
Jenkins said it wasn’t fair to blame the club owner for something he has no control over.
Council member Diana Reid asked how long the businesses were losing money because of noise complaints.
Mayank Patel could not give a definitive time frame.
"They’ll go online and do reviews and with the new generation, it’s all about reviews from hotels," Mayank Patel said. "The first review you’ll see will be about the noise from outside."
Reid said she heard loud music inside the Econo before and knows of other complaints which could be contributing to the hotel losing money.
Mayank Patel said the complaints mainly come from guests in the building closest to Cream.
Nelson said it seems the police car sits out there for safety reasons.
Jenkins wondered why this was the first time the council was hearing of these problems.
"Do we have anything that shows they are in violation?" Keith asked. "When we do reports and ask if there’s been any violations we get the answer no. If there are violations we need to know, so we can be aware of what’s going on."
Hinesville Police Chief George Stagmeier said that compared to the other sports bars in the area, the police get more calls to Cream.
Stagmeier told council there were 80 calls to the club within a year, with police responding to incidents such as loud music, drug activity and assaults. He said the incidents mostly happen outside.
"I’m just trying to be fair. You’ve got a larger club and a larger crowd and alcohol on the premises and that’s a mixture of disaster," Reid said.
Stagmeier explained why police vehicles were parked outside the businesses.
"Because there is so many people leaving that establishment, we set up to make sure people get in their cars and leave," he said. "We’re there probably 30 minutes before they close, unless we’re called, to make sure there’s a safe and orderly exit. It would be a bigger problem if we’re not there."
Hinesville Mayor Allen Brown was concerned about police officers being in danger when he heard about someone brandishing a shotgun. Brown said businesses have a right to run their business and thinks city attorney Linnie Darden III should start "a fair and due process to hear further evidence from the police."
"I think we need to move forward and help our people who do business in the community," Brown said.
Reid reiterated it was important to be fair to the club’s owners.
"Cream is a business also. We have to be fair," she said. "We’re just constantly throwing everything on Cream. They haven’t had the opportunity to speak. We hear, ‘They need to close. They need to do this or that.’ But how much of that responsibility lies on the owner? He’s not responsible for a grown person going to the Huddle House, to the Econo Lodge and using the bathroom."
Council member Kenneth Shaw made the motion to have the city attorney write a letter to the business owner, informing him of the complaints and asking him to address the issues. The motion was approved.
Cream owner Sheron Cobb arrived at the meeting late and did not address the council.
Afterward, he said Big Apple customers are charged for parking and the parking staff allows Cream guests to park there.
Otisha Mixon, who works at Cream, said "We have all our parking in the back. We follow the rules and we let our guests know if they park there (at other businesses) they will get towed. We announce that on the mic every day. We’re trying to be friendly neighbors and work with them but at the same time instead of coming here (to city council), sit down and talk with us. What can we do to resolve this?"
Cobb addressed the situation with the shotgun.
"That was the police. I have a hired officer there," Cobb said, "He was the one out front because there was a confrontation with a guy running back to his car supposedly saying he was going to get a gun. So he was out there protecting the folks."
Mixon thinks the main issue is not the noise but business competition because they have a lot of customers.
"I think it’s silly to throw stuff on us to shut us down," she said.
Cobb said the noise is an "easy fix." Officers have told him to turn down the music, which he says he does and said he has never gotten a noise violation.
Mixon said Cream sends the hotels business.
"They’re talking about losing business. No, you all are gaining business. I know for a fact that a lot of people walk out of Cream and go get a room."