Jeramey Jannene
City Hall

Council To Consider Closing VIP Lounge

Milwaukee Police Department backing bar's closure.

By - May 26th, 2021 03:33 pm
VIP Lounge, 828 S. 1st St. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

VIP Lounge, 828 S. 1st St. File photo by Jeramey Jannene.

A Walker’s Point nightclub may soon be no more.

The Milwaukee Common Council and Milwaukee Police Department have served written notice to VIP Lounge owner Miguel Martinez that a special meeting has been called for June 1st to consider revoking his liquor license for a “disregard for public safety.”

The council renewed VIP’s license in September with a 10-day suspension. That decision followed a lengthy hearing where the details of multiple shootings that occurred outside the bar on back-to-back weeks were discussed. One of the shootings involved 50 to 60 gunshots according to a neighbor. MPD sent 10 squads to the property on September 8th to deal with fights on the street, one of a dozen times MPD was called to address issues with the bar in the preceding two months.

At the September hearing, MPD District 2 captain David Salazar warned that locations with this level of gunfire often end up being the site of a homicide if the situation is not addressed.

But after the suspension, VIP Lounge, 828 S. 1st St., kept running into trouble.

The business knowingly exceeded COVID-19 capacity limits on December 31st, January 3rd, January 8th and January 15th according to a 93-page MPD and council report.

On January 29th and February 20th, MPD and Milwaukee Health Department personnel observed the business allowing patrons to violate the city’s health order regarding mask wearing, patrons being seated and social distancing. More than $15,000 in citations were issued, with the bar being the first to receive the new $5,000 maximum fine.

Then things escalated.

On May 3rd and May 6th shootings took place outside the club with at least one individual being hit. Employees told MPD the security camera system was not working, but footage provided by neighbors confirmed that those involved in the shootings were club patrons. In neither situation did VIP Lounge staff call the police.

The problems for VIP Lounge aren’t all related to the pandemic. The council issued a formal warning to Martinez in 2019 and a 10-day suspension in 2018 as part of the annual renewal process.

It would not be the first bar the city has closed in the past year. The council denied license renewals for Gene’s Supper Club in February and Junior’s Cocktail Lounge in April, closing both bars. SITE owner Aaron Ohlsson surrendered the license for his nightclub before the council could revoke it, avoiding a public hearing on a fatal shooting between two individuals that Ohlsson was shown interacting with shortly before it occurred.

Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us