RCSD issues Stop Work Order for club posing as a restaurant, operating as a ‘sexually explicit’ business

Updated: Aug. 20, 2019 at 10:47 AM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) -Deputies in Richland County have issued a Stop Work Order for Tryst, an adult entertainment club that posed as a restaurant.

“It was a slap in the face of law enforcement and to the community on what they were doing,” said Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott.

According to Sheriff Leon Lott, the owners applied to open a restaurant and signed an agreement with the South Carolina Department of Revenue and a judge stating the restaurant would not be a sexually-oriented business. Lott said the owners opened the establishment shortly after signing the agreement and turned it into a strip club.

Lott said deputies were able to go into the building and see violations over time. An undercover officer also went into Tryst and was able to record video showing the business operating as a strip club. Officials said prostitution was also happening at this business.

Deputies executed a search warrant after midnight when the establishment was supposed to be closed. Once inside, authorities saw customers and more than 12 dancers. Investigators also found no food in the kitchen area of the building.

“We’ve appealed to the Department of Revenue based on information that we’ve got that they take their license away from them,” Sheriff Lott said.

On Tuesday afternoon, SCDOR issued a statement regarding the attempt to shut down Tryst. In part, the statement reads as follows:

The South Carolina Department of Revenue (SCDOR) has been opposed to issuing an alcohol license to Tryst from the beginning. We originally denied the license, but it was appealed to the Administrative Law Court. The Court granted the license with certain stipulations. The SCDOR made revoking Tryst’s license a priority since we learned about the violations of the Court order.

Officials with SCDOR said they have begun the revocation process. However, the business owners have 90 days to protest the notice of intent to revoke the license.

Lott added that there were numerous complaints from members of the community about the club, but there were no shootings or deaths at this establishment.

While the Stop Work Order has been issued for the business, Lott noted there will also be prostitution arrests forthcoming.

Just last month, the Richland County Sheriff’s Department shut down Club LaRoice after it was deemed to be dangerous and a nuisance in April. Shortly after that club was closed, owners of Mi Casita Sports Bar and Lounge relinquished their license to sell alcoholic beverages after the establishment had more than 50 complaint calls against it for various reasons.

Here is a list of nightclub establishments that have been closed:

  • Club LaRoice - RCSD received more than 32 for services from January 2016 to December 2017
  • Mi Casita - RCSD received more than 50 complaint calls
  • Faces Lounges - RCSD said there were 72 incidents in five years including five shot in January
  • Black Pearl - RCSD investigated a double homicide here in December 2017
  • Kandy Land - 10 shootings including one homicide
  • Bliss Columbia - RCSD said there were 52 incidents here in five years

RCSD said there were 20 calls for service at this establishment and they will continue to monitor the establishment.

Lott pointed out there has not been a shooting death at a club in Richland County since July 25, which is also the day the club locked the doors of the building.

“This community and Richland County is sick and tired of these places in their neighborhoods where kids have to sleep in the bathtub because they’re scared about bullets coming in their house and that’s what we had on Decker (Boulevard)," Sheriff Lott said, “where people get up to go to church on Sunday and there’s beer bottles and there’s people drunk in the streets fighting and shooting. We can’t have our community living like this. This community sent a message to me that I better do something about it and we have. We’ve taken action and we’ll continue to take action against these clubs who operate illegally.”

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