A Chippewa Street bar that has been deemed a “public menace” and a “detriment” to the popular entertainment district has been evicted from its Delaware Avenue home after a new landlord terminated its lease for nonpayment.
Therese Hickok, spokeswoman for Uniland Development Co., said the Amherst-based real estate company abruptly canceled the lease for Big Bad Wolf at 252 Delaware Ave. The bar had been identified as a source of trouble by police and other city leaders.
Most recently, two people were fatally shot in separate incidents Aug. 19 and Oct. 13 near or in the rear parking lot of the bar.
“It was terminated because they were in default, and they no longer have the right to occupy the property,” Hickok said. She declined to elaborate or to comment on whether the decision was related to the bar’s legal troubles. Uniland acquired the building, known as the Delaware Court Building, in September.
Police reacted favorably to news of the eviction. “We have had issues with that property, and hopefully in the future it won’t be repeated,” Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda said Wednesday.
However, Kirk Kubiak, the bar’s owner, challenged both Uniland’s right to evict the business and the allegations against his business.
He said he found out about the eviction at about 4 a.m. Wednesday when he went to the club and found the locks had been changed.
He said Uniland had failed to follow proper legal procedures, including notifying him of the default and their planned eviction and then seeking a court order.
“They didn’t serve us papers, they didn’t take us to court. They just locked the doors,” he said, adding that his offer to pay the back rent now was rejected. “They claim that they notified us, but they never did. It seems like everyone is trying to get us shut down.”
Before the shootings, the bar had been cited and temporarily closed in June for allowing two underage girls inside. The business opened last November.
Central District Police Chief Brian K. Patterson has said the bar requires “a disproportionate amount of police protection” to break up weekly fights both inside and outside.
But Kubiak denied that. “They make it sound like we have fights every night, which we don’t. They’re making up a whole bunch of lies,” he said. “Besides the shooting, we haven’t had an incident in a month or two months.”
He also accused the police of “harassing us nonstop” by stationing officers and cars outside. He said the first shooting victim had actually left Big Bad Wolf, gone to another bar and a pizza place, and then around the corner, and was shot a block away from his club. He said he has tried to cooperate with the authorities, providing police with “full access to my employees” and the bar’s video, as well as the names of people in the club.
Kubiak also complained that Patterson allowed his police-issued permit to expire late last Friday after Kubiak’s check to the police bounced and that police then drove up and abruptly shut down the bar in the middle of a happy hour party for real estate agents. A city hearing on the matter will be held at 10 a.m. today.
Meanwhile, family members of the second victim, Roderick Peoples, have offered a $500 reward for any information in helping find the individual or individuals responsible for the killing. Anyone with information is asked to call or text the department’s confidential TIP-CALL line at 847-2255 or submit information via the “Report a Tip” function on the department’s website, www.bpdny.org.
Speaking at the monthly Buffalo Place board meeting Wednesday, Patterson said the biggest issue for police downtown right now is “rooting out bad clubs” in the Chippewa district. There are about 20 clubs in the area, but three of them account for 80 to 85 percent of the trouble.
“They want to make a fast buck, rent space [for parties] to the highest bidder and hope nothing happens,” he said, declining to identify them.
Patterson said police are seeing “less violence in clubs and more order outside clubs” without the “commingling” that used to occur when underage patrons were allowed into bars. New city regulations have essentially stopped the practice, although the Rev. Darius Pridgen, a Common Council member who represents the area, said he understands several clubs are seeking to challenge the city’s new rule.
“It has to stay this way. We’ve seen a change in behavior in downtown,” Pridgen said. “If we can just get the bad actors out, we’ll see improvement.”
News Staff Reporter Lou Michel contributed to this report. email: firstname.lastname@example.org