City: Owner of LR Nightclub Operated on Expired Business License for Months

July 17, 2017
Little Rock, AR

By Jessi Turnure

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Two days before shots rang out at Power Ultra Lounge, hitting 25 people, the owner paid the city for his business license.

However, it was nearly seven months late.

According to Little Rock's Treasury Division, Herman Lewis paid in full June 28 what he owed the city, about $450 including fines.

The division said a business has never been shut down just for having an invalid business license. Of the city's 12,000 business accounts, collectors have to work to get payments for expired licenses from about 2,000 to 3,000 every year. Not all of the accounts are storefronts. Some are rentals or home offices.

However, the division said the nightclub was notorious for dragging its feet on payments.

Arkansans walking around the River Market Monday called for a crackdown on businesses.

"As well as the owner, I see the city at fault for things like this happening," said Greg Holloman. "It was going to be a big thing [the concert] and the owner decided to follow the rules. But if they were regulated and rules were enforced beforehand, this probably would have never happened."

"If they're not paying the license fees, they shouldn't be in business," Diane Wagner. "It's easy."

"Shut 'em down," Marion Levitt said. "We have to pay for our driver's license and all that. Business owners have to pay to have their business. If it's the law, obey the law."

The Treasury Division said Lewis's city alcohol permit expired June 30, the day of the concert. If Power Ultra Lounge was still open, he would owe $1,500.

The nightclub also had a mixed drink permit with the Alcoholic Beverage Control, which the agency immediately suspended after the mass shooting.

According to ABC, Power Ultra Lounge has been issued seven citations since 2012, mostly involving underage drinking.

According to Little Rock police, of the more than 50 calls to the 200 block of 6th Street since January, only eight listed the location of the nightclub.