Building owner says another business will take the place of troublesome club

August 4, 2010 

A day after the Hilton Head Town Council revoked the license of Club Prana, plans are already under way to put in a new business at the Arrow Road location.

Jay Stever, who owns the property and whose name is on the club's business license, said two people are interested in the site, one of whom would open a restaurant.

"Things will be different," Stever said Wednesday.

The council voted Tuesday to revoke the club's business license under a 2009 ordinance that allows the town to shut down "nuisance" businesses. Club Prana, an island nightspot with a reputation for noise and rowdiness, is the first Hilton Head Island club to lose its license under that law.

Stever, landlord and agent for the company that held the club's liquor license, said he is no longer with the management company, AOE Entertainment, responsible for the club's day-to-day operations.

"They're history," Stever said of AOE Entertainment. His attorney, Michael Mogil, said Stever has no plans to appeal the council's decision and will work with the town to comply with all applicable laws. Mogil said the club has been closed for several weeks.

The club had been a problem since it opened in fall 2008, town officials say.

Over that time, the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office received more than 150 calls about the club -- a number sheriff's officials have called "excessive." The town sent the club a letter in November 2009 warning the owners they were at risk of losing their license if they didn't stem the problems.

But more than 30 calls for service followed, town attorney Brian Hulbert said, and the town's finance department suspended the club's license June 29.The club's owners are not precluded from moving to a new location, operating the business again at its current location or operating a different business at 130 Arrow Road, according to Hulbert.

Nonetheless, councilman Drew Laughlin, who represents the area around the club, said it is unlikely the town would approve an application from Club Prana.

"As it stands, they simply have the opportunity to apply for another business license. That doesn't mean they'll get one. My guess is they wouldn't," Laughlin said. "They would have to convince the town that they've cleaned up the problems that have brought this about."

Hulbert agreed.The town council passed the nuisance ordinance after several high-profile shooting at area nightclubs on New Year's Day 2009.

Sheriff P.J. Tanner has said the Sheriff's Office has informed the town of several other problem areas but declined to name them.

Hulbert said the town has no requests from Tanner's office to revoke the license of any other island night club and hopes not to have to do so.

"Hopefully, this will serve as a warning to clubs and bars that the town council, when required, will take action to make sure the peace of the town is kept," he said.

Residents of a nearby RV park said they were thrilled by the council's decision and look forward to a successful business moving into the club's location -- minus the noise and drunken behavior of club patrons.

Dinah Frank, who owns one of the 401 lots at Hilton Head Island Motorcoach Resort at 133 Arrow Road, said a restaurant would be welcomed. Franks said she also feels Stever has learned his lesson.

"He knows now we are going to fight any type of element like that," she said.

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