NORFOLK – A Twitter feed on Wednesday promoted the grand opening of Studio 200, a “hookah lounge” at 200 E. Plume St.
That’s the location of The Palace on Plume Street nightclub, which is owned by Kenny Bullock. He temporarily closed his club after a man was shot while leaving the venue in December.
So what is Studio 200?
Promotional materials online said KB Entertainment was opening it for a “MEAC Weekend Kick-Off” with free hookah sticks. The college basketball tournament is taking place at Scope through Saturday.
A Tweet promoting Studio 200 on Tuesday read, “TOMORROW NIGHT, IS THE GRAND OPENING OF ONE OF THE SEXIEST LOUNGE!”
Bullock’s attorney, Kevin Martingayle, said in an email that Studio 200 was not actually a new business, but simply an event happening Wednesday night as Bullock reopens The Palace.
To start a hookah lounge or any new restaurant, Bullock would need a “special exception” permit from the city.
Martingayle said Bullock is in “compliance with the law” because “the hookah concept involves vapor, and not burning tobacco.”
City Attorney Bernard A. Pishko and spokeswoman Lori Crouch did not respond to questions about the situation.
Since 2011, city officials, police and the commonwealth’s attorney have scrutinized The Palace over code violations and violent incidents.
While nightclubs including Bar Norfolk, Have a Nice Day Cafe, Posh Dolche and Velvet were either shut down or closed under city pressure, Bullock’s business has survived.
Among the incidents at The Palace was an argument in 2011 that state police say led to the fatal shooting of Timothy Jenkins, 34, on Interstate 264; a fight in the club in late August that resulted in the stabbing of four people; and the December shooting. The Jenkins homicide remains unsolved. Curtis Julius Garrett was arrested in the stabbing and awaits a court hearing on April 23. Police say Garrett is from Richmond.
In the most recent incident, a man “was exiting The Palace on Plume nightclub when he was shot once in the face by an unknown suspect,” according to a search warrant affidavit. The victim was treated for injuries to his face and ear.
“Numerous spent shell casings were recovered in the street directly in front” of the club, according to the affidavit.
The shooting, which occurred Dec. 27, remains unsolved.
A detective wrote on Jan. 3 that the nightclub had not complied with a request for a surveillance video. Martingayle said The Palace has cooperated with police.
When it opened, The Palace was owned by Chesapeake lawyer Christopher Falk. Bullock owned the building and acted as a manager. Bullock was later approved as an ABC manager and has taken over as club owner.
Bullock declined to comment.
By Patrick Wilson
© March 13, 2014