Two Chippewa Entertainment District bar owners have filed a lawsuit challenging Buffalo’s ordinance that prevents adults 18 to 20 years old from patronizing their clubs.
In court papers, Daniel Valentine, owner of the Lux nightclub, and Adam March, owner of the Bayou nightclub, said the ordinance infringes on their right and ability to earn a living by restricting the type of business they may run and their ability to serve adults under the age of 21 who want to frequent their establishments for lawful purposes.
Valentine bought Lux in October 2011. March bought the Bayou in March 2010. The Bayou is closed for renovations and is scheduled to reopen next month under a new name, The Lodge, according to the lawsuit.
Colin Miller, 19, who wants the right to patronize their bars, also is named as a plaintiff in the suit.
“Colin Miller is a 19-year-old adult who has the legal authority to die for his country and vote to elect a president,” the lawsuit states. “Mr. Miller has the constitutional right to enter the premises of the Lux, The Lodge and any other establishment for any lawful purpose, and to freely associate with other adults. He does not seek to consume alcohol or commit any violation of law while at the establishments in question. The [city’s] actions have prevented and continue to prevent Mr. Miller from exercising his constitutional rights.”
Paul J. Cambria, of the Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria law firm, represents the bar owners.
The bar owners want a judge to enjoin the city from enforcing the ordinance. They are scheduled to appear before State Supreme Court Justice James H. Dillon today.
In their lawsuit, the bar owners say they “can affirmatively show that since the enactment of the ordinance, which restricts commingling of targeted individuals in their establishments, [they] have suffered debilitating drops in gross revenue directly correlating with the restriction, and will be prevented from properly conducting their businesses, which include entertainment to any individual that enters for lawful purposes.”
In April, the Common Council passed legislation prohibiting people under 21 years of age from patronizing Chippewa Street bars, except on Thursday evenings. By October, those under 21 were prohibited from patronizing the bars on any evening.
Before the ordinance, patrons between the ages of 18 and 20 were allowed to enter the bars on West Chippewa Street on any night but could not drink alcohol.
Patrons 21 years and older were given bracelets and allowed to buy and drink alcohol.
Before the ordinance, the Lux made between $15,000 and $25,000 more in weekly profits, according to the lawsuit.
“The Lodge will further be deprived of this economic benefit and the right to fully conduct its business solely because of the age of ‘would-be’ patrons,” according to the lawsuit.
The ordinance violates the state and U.S. constitutions, the bar owners say.
Named as defendants in the lawsuit are Mayor Byron W. Brown, Common Council members, Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda and James Comerford Jr., commissioner of permits and inspections.