Deep Ellum News

Deep Ellum club with sketchy operations shut down by Dallas City Council

Deep Ellum club with sketchy operations shut by Dallas City Council

Deep Ellum sign
The Traveling Man is celebrating the ousting of a troublesome business in Deep Ellum. Photo by Steve Rainwater

A Deep Ellum club with an unpopular reputation in the neighborhood was shut out by the Dallas City Council, and will now either close or become some other kind of business.

The club was Vinty Club, located at 2810 Elm St., whose special use permit (SUP) to operate was denied at the council meeting on May 23.

Prior to the vote, council members received a 48-page summary from the Deep Ellum Foundation — the organization that represents property owners, business owners, and residents — with a list of incidents surrounding the club, including brawls, gunshots, and fights in the adjacent parking lot.

The Dallas Police Department also recommended shutting it down, citing the more than 20 calls to the location in 2017.

"Specifically, there have been numerous incidents of major disturbances, disorderly conduct, and public intoxication, all of which are strong indicators that the business owners of Vinty Club are not engaging in responsible management of their premises," their statement said.

The club didn't do itself any favors in its social media posts. In February, the club's Facebook page shared a meme expressing a desire to punch a woman ("When you want to jaw the fuck outta yo girl"), and its comments on others' posts were semi-literate and thuggish.

General manager Rocky Carlson defended the business, suggesting that the only "plausible explanation" behind closing the club was racism, since 90 percent of its clientele is black and Hispanic.

But the board of the Deep Ellum Foundation emphasized that the issue was the club's operation, not its clientele.

"This is the first time in 10 years we've gone for an opposition," said Jon Hetzel, board president. "There's an accusation about racial discrmination. We have a number of African-American as well as Hispanic bars and nightclubs in Deep Ellum, but we have not come down here and spoken in opposition to any of them. We love that Deep Ellum is for all comers. It's this specific business and the volume of reports from our off-duty officers and conversations with the on-duty officers."

The owner of Vinty Club is Ioannis Manettas, who has a long history of bars with sketchy operations, including Malibu Bar and the Service Bar on Greenville Avenue, both now closed; he also owns Tiger Cabaret off I-30 in far East Dallas.

Council member Philip Kingston laid down the four legal standards that go into consideration of an SUP, including the requirement that a business be compatible with the area.

"It's important that we abide by the legal standards and they're always the same," Kingston said, in what would surely be the most relevant information if a lawsuit were ever to be filed.

Kingston also pointed that Vinty had operated without a certificate of occupancy for a number of years, and was currently operating as a bar when it was really a dance club.

Mayor Mike Rawlings was less meticulous.

"I don't know where the truth is, but I saw that post you put up," he said, referring to the Facebook meme, before raising his voice, all caps for emphasis. "That is disgusting, misogynistic, and we DON'T HIT WOMEN IN THIS TOWN."