KNOXVILLE (WATE) – An East Tennessee neighborhood is worried about their safety. The Oakwood-Lincoln Park Neighborhood Association is meeting next week to figure out what can be done about Dilemma Ultra Lounge and Grill on North Broadway. The owner, Kevin Cherry, also owned Club Dejavu. It’s a business that was shut down earlier this year after being deemed a public nuisance.
The Knoxville homeowners say there have been a number of issues there and they want something done about it. The Knoxville Police Department says the neighborhood is doing something right, communicating. Because of that, city leaders are coming to next week’s meeting so that problems can be heard and addressed.
“I’ve picked up a lot of broken glass bottles,” said Sandy Hurst.
Hurst has lived in the Oakwood-Lincoln Park neighborhood since the 1990s and says much has changed.
“Just in the last year it’s gotten out of control.”
Homeowners, like Hurst, say it’s because of one business on N Broadway, maybe two blocks away, Dilemma Ultra Lounge and Grill.
“At 2:30, 3 o’clock loud cars racing down Oglewood in the area, and gunshots. Last couple weekends there have been gunshots at 2:00, 3 in the morning,” said Hurst.
Many neighbors say they’re worried any issues may escalate.
“It just gives you the feeling like you’re in a war zone. You don’t know what’s going to come through your neighborhood shooting,” added Hurst.
In the last year, Knoxville police officers have answered 25 emergency calls to the bar, everything from fights to property checks and disturbances, some with weapons involved. To date, six crime reports have been filed involving aggravated assault, disorderly conduct and drunkenness.
“It’s imperative this neighborhood communicate with us and let us know what the issue is so we can work on it with the business causing trouble. We go talk to the owner, say, ‘Hey we’ve got some issues in the neighborhood, can you adjust the way you’re doing business?'” said Captain Don Jones..
Rules are posted on Dilemma Ultra Lounge’s door including no fighting and no gang or criminal activity. Homeowners, including Hurst, have written to Mayor Madeline Rogero and are hoping to work on finding some kind of balance.
“This is no place for a bar, lounge, whatever they call it. Move on out,” said Hurst.
Police were unable to say whether they’re investigating this bar. Police say if issues persist and a business becomes a nuisance, investigators will work with the district attorney’s office to close it down.
Owner responds to complaints from nearby homeowners
The owner of Dilemma Ultra Lounge and Grill, Kevin Cherry, is also the previous owner of Club Dejavu. It was a nightclub in South Knoxville until the District Attorney’s office shut it down for being a public nuisance. This information is only making homeowners more concerned. However, Cherry says people just need to be patient because he says there are plans in place to help the problem.
“It’s not a problem that will fix its self over night. I’m sorry but I am asking the community to bear with me,” said Cherry.
Cherry says the problems at his club are also a concern of his. He says he is not condoning these actions. In the last year, Knoxville Police Department has been called to the bar more than 20 times for situations like fights and property checks.
“You would think after 10 times they would do something like shut that place down,” said Chuck Huddleston, a homeowner who lives near the bar.
Huddleston lives a few blocks from the club. A recent shooting there is making him nervous about his family’s safety.
“Get rid of that place from down here. Let it be somewhere else,” said Huddleston.
Cherry said the last thing he wants to do is open another business and create a nuisance. He says he is working with the Repeat Offenders Squad, hoping to convert Dilemma Ultra Lounge and Grill into a day time sports bar by the start of this next year.
“We are all working together to stop this problem because I am just as frustrated as the neighborhood,” said Cherry.