Sophie Bolich

Council Slaps Infinity Lounge With 60-Day Suspension

Complaints of noise, violence, litter and alleged strippers plague Sherman Park bar.

By - Mar 21st, 2023 03:35 pm

The Infinity Lounge. Photo by Angeline Terry.

Infinity Lounge, a tavern and hookah bar in the Sherman Park neighborhood, is serving a 60-day suspension based on a six-item police report that included complaints of excessive noise, violence, litter and alleged strippers.

The Milwaukee Common Council on Tuesday issued the bar, 4001 W. Fond Du Lac Ave., a two-month suspension, though some members pushed for reducing it due to the council’s recent struggles to defend its decisions in court.

The suspension went into effect on March 21, though the bar has been closed since its license expired Feb. 28. Infinity Lounge can reopen May 20, according to the the Licenses Committee recommendation.

A March 1 Facebook post from Infinity Lounge announced that the bar would be closed through March 7 for remodeling. The bar hasn’t posted an update since then.

Mario Spencer, owner of Infinity Lounge, appeared before the license committee on March 7 for a hearing. He was accompanied by Attorney Michael Maistelman.

Spencer opened the lounge in March 2022.

According to a police report presented at the hearing, the bar has been the site of several incidents including two instances of a subject with a gun. One patron reported a firearm stolen from his vehicle when it was parked close to the tavern.

One resident who lives next door said that the bar has been problematic, raising particular issues with litter, noise, public urination next to her house, cars driving on sidewalks and illegal parking. The issues are so severe, said Lydia Melton , that she won’t allow her grandchildren to visit due to being “so worried about so much chaos going on.”

Melton told the committee that she has videos to back up each of her claims.

In his cross-examination, Maistelman asked Melton whether she had previously owned the bar, to which she replied that her brother owned the bar and she was manager.

He also asked if her frustrations could be related to the fact that the bar was sold without her knowledge.

“What do you mean? It never was mine, I never owned it,” she said. “My name was never on that. I don’t care if he sold it, that was way back in 2007.”

Melton was also present at an Oct. 18 hearing for the possible revocation of the license for Infinity Lounge, but the committee ultimately took no action that day.

At the March 7 hearing, Alderman Khalif Rainey stated that he supported a 60-day suspension, noting that Spencer hasn’t lived up to his promise to improve how the bar operated.

“The way this establishment has been run, it’s only a matter of time before something bad happens,” Ald. Rainey said. “All I’ve seen from him and Infinity Lounge is constant advertisement of strippers…So for me, my biggest issue is him operating outside of the scope of his license on several occasions.”

Spencer responded with examples of his positive impact on the community, while denying that his establishment hosts strippers.

The allegations arose from a series of four Instagram videos forwarded to the licenses division. The committee viewed the videos, one of which stated “there will be strippers from Chicago” at Infinity Lounge.

While the videos weren’t broadcast, James Cooney, license division manager for the city, described the content as “scantily-clad people dancing in the establishment,” but specified that there was no nudity.

“That’s the definition of exposed,” said Alderman Jonathan Brostoff, after viewing the videos.

Spencer denied that Infinity Lounge hosts strippers and explained that the videos were for advertising purposes only. “I have had a promoter in the past that I let shoot videos in there,” he said. “But there wasn’t nobody taking no clothes off that I know of.”

According to Spencer, the videos were filmed during a closed, private event.

Spencer filed written objections to the suspension ahead of Tuesday’s meeting of the full Common Council. After the remarks, Ald. Rainey moved to reduce the suspension to 10 days, but backed away from that proposal after Alderman Mark Borkowski and other colleagues shared their support for the full 60 days.

In turn, Alderman Scott Spiker made the same motion as Rainey, for 10-day suspension, but it failed to pass the council vote.

Worry About a Lawsuit

Infinity Lounge could sue to block the suspension, which raised alarms among council members due to its recent struggles to defend its decisions in court.

“My decision to amend the application of the suspension was based on the advice from a legal attorney, our city attorney,” Ald. Rainey said. “They’re telling me that they’re not certain how defendable this is, they don’t know if it has demonstrated the progression needed.”

“I’m just tired of these things going to court and getting overturned,” added Alderman José G. Pérez. “And I don’t think that it’s fair to our constituents.”

Alderwoman Milele A. Coggs pointed to incomplete and missing police reports as a source of the issue.

“It’s critically important that we have thorough police reports that can help whatever decision we make hold up in court,” she said. “And if I’m just 100% transparent, we have not been getting the quality of reports that we need in recent times….we have neighbors that are saying they’ve called a million times or have dealt with police a million times, and there’s no police report. But this is something we are actively working to change.”

When prompted, Assistant City Attorney Christopher Jackson affirmed that he can defend the 60-day suspension in court, based on the police report, neighborhood testimony and video evidence.

“We will defend any decision that this committee makes,” he said.

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One thought on “Council Slaps Infinity Lounge With 60-Day Suspension”

  1. steenwyr says:

    “we have neighbors that are saying they’ve called a million times or have dealt with police a million times, and there’s no police report. But this is something we are actively working to change.”

    Having been one of those constituents, Ill be amazed if the Council can do anything here. The magic words to get MPD to do their part here is “I wish to be a complainant” — say it on the phone to dispatch, say it to the responding officer. They won’t volunteer this information willingly….

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