PLCB sets November hearing for Ali Baba license renewal

By Jerry Lynott - [email protected]
The exterior of the Ali Baba Lounge is shown on South Main Street in Wilkes-Barre earlier this summer. A hearing on renewing the club’s liquor license has been set for November. - Times Leader file photo

WILKES-BARRE — The attorney for the beleaguered Ali Baba Lounge said he will respond to the more than two dozen complaints that have placed the nightclub’s liquor license in jeopardy.

Attorney Frank Hoegen will have the opportunity to present the club’s case to an administrative law judge at a Nov. 14 hearing scheduled by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board. The hearing is set for 9 a.m. at the Courtyard, 879 Schechter Drive, Wilkes-Barre Township.

“We have a story to tell and we’re going to tell it. It’s compelling,” Hoegen said Thursday.

Hoegen declined to discuss specifics, but said there are two sides to a story and the club’s will be presented to the judge who will decide on Ali Baba’s license renewal that was to take effect Sept. 1. The PLCB has allowed the South Main Street club to operate with temporary authority pending the hearing.

In a letter dated Aug. 10, the PLCB notified license holder Nabil Abualburak Inc., doing business as Omnia Bar & Grill and Ali Baba Lounge, that a preliminary review “may indicate abuse of the licensing privilege.”

The PLCB listed several citations issued to the license holder for violations that include: permitting patrons to remove alcoholic beverages from the bar a half hour after closing; selling in excess of the limited 192 fluid ounces for takeout; and sales to a minor.

In addition, the PLCB alleged there have been 26 “incidents of disturbances on or about the licensed premises or in areas under your control during the time period September 2016 to present. This activity includes, but is not limited to, disorderly operations, visibly intoxicated patrons, fights, assault, public drunkenness, drugs, and after hours.”

On Sept. 1 — the date the club’s license was to be renewed — Wilkes-Barre police said they responded to a report of gunshots in the vicinity of the lounge. No injuries were reported at the time.

Nearly two months earlier, 26-year-old Collin Jones of Brooklyn, N.Y., died from a gunshot wound to the head he sustained while driving away after a fight broke out outside the club. His death was ruled a homicide and no arrests have been made.

The manager of the lounge, Ali Abualburak, has previously argued that Ali Baba has been wrongly labeled as a trouble spot.

The exterior of the Ali Baba Lounge is shown on South Main Street in Wilkes-Barre earlier this summer. A hearing on renewing the club’s liquor license has been set for November.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_TTL072918AliBaba.jpgThe exterior of the Ali Baba Lounge is shown on South Main Street in Wilkes-Barre earlier this summer. A hearing on renewing the club’s liquor license has been set for November. Times Leader file photo

By Jerry Lynott

[email protected]

Reach Jerry Lynott at 570-991-6120 or on Twitter @TLJerryLynott.

Reach Jerry Lynott at 570-991-6120 or on Twitter @TLJerryLynott.