Despite cloudy future, Vista club owner's lawyer says business 'deserves to be open'

Despite cloudy future, Vista club owner's lawyer says business 'deserves to be open'

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - On the corner of Lady and Park Street, now sits an empty Empire Supper Club.

"He deserves to be open," Bakari Sellers, Joe Stovall's attorney says.

As of Tuesday, the future of the Empire Supper Club remains uncertain. The downtown bar is at the center of debate after a violent shooting injured 8 people over the weekend just near that business, according to the Columbia Police Department.

Will the Empire Supper Club remain closed or should they be allowed to re-open again for business?

That's the question city leaders are trying to answer after a closed-door meeting with the owner took place at Columbia police headquarters Tuesday morning.

Shortly after that meeting ended Joe Stovall, the owner, said that no decision was made on whether or not to re-open the business.

Columbia police are expected to release a statement at some point on Tuesday. According to Columbia Police Chief Skip Holbrook, the business is a nuisance after he says a weekend shootout started near the club.

"I have revoked the business license and the building has been padlocked," Chief Holbrook said.

Joe Stovall – the owner and his attorney Bakari Sellers are now pushing to re-open. Tuesday they sat down with Columbia police leaders behind closed doors.

"We went in and made some suggestions that Mr. Stovall is willing to do on behalf of Empire Supper Club," Sellers said.

The building is no stranger to Columbia police investigators. In 2014 – under the name of Lucky 13 – a shooting injured one. In 2010 – under the name of Club Ice – 4 people were injured nearby.

Now, under Empire Supper Club, 8 people injured. Through it all, Robin Dial has owned the property and the building renting it out to various tenants. Now city leaders are also turning to him to try and prevent something like this happening again.

Over the phone, Dial sided with the city.

"When it comes to what's the next step, everybody is in accord that we want a good tenant that contributes to the vista that is not a risky operator," Dial said. "We don't want to risk ever having anything like this ever again."

However, Dial wasn't clear on how he would try to make that happen or how he would work to find a good tenant.

No decision has been made as of Tuesday evening, but the Columbia Police Department issued a statement, saying:

This morning, Police Chief Skip Holbrook met with the owner of Empire Supper Club, Joe Stovall, and his attorney, Bakari Sellers.

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