In the same Scott Boulevard complex as the popular is Dash Restaurant and Lounge, which by day is quiet and unassuming but by night becomes a nightclub that has garnered complaints and could potentially lead to a shutdown.
As of last week, the most recent citation on June 30 was a warning to cease the operation of a late-night establishment or obtain a special land use permit to continue operating as a nightclub, said Burke Brennan, county spokesman. But police have issued several citations since June 26, but he did not say how many.
If Dash does not comply with the citation, the next step is Recorders Court.
“The biggest problem is that it’s operating as a nightclub, a late nightclub, and it doesn’t have a permit to do so,” said Mekka Parish, DeKalb County police spokesperson. “That in and of itself is breaking the county ordinance.”
Parish said citations Dash has received from Code Enforcement or the vice squad unit must be handled in Recorders Court to pay any necessary fines. After that, Dash would need to submit proper documentation to be considered a compliant late-night nightclub.
“The definition [of a nightclub] is a commercial establishment dispensing alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises in which dancing and musical entertainment is allowed. ... Nightclubs are permitted to have patrons beyond 12:30am that consume alcohol,” Parish said. By contrast, restaurants just serve food and drinks for consumption in their building. “The difference is food and drink versus alcohol."
Dash management or its owners could not be reached for comment.
“[Dash is] permitted and zoned to be a restaurant, but are running the place like a nightclub,” Kathryn Firago, president of the Medlock Area Neighbors Association said at a recent MANA meeting. “Several neighbors who live nearby are rather upset about that, so they’ve been working hard to get it shut down or at least enforce the restaurant hours.”
Woodridge Drive resident Scott Schubele said Dash keeps very late hours. His girlfriend often goes to the gym around 5am and has seen Dash’s parking lot still crowded and the club still open at that time, even on weekdays. He also noticed business at the club on the Fourth of July.
“It’s just kind of a nasty crowd that hangs out over there,” he said. “Several times, I’ve heard fights going on over there. … I’ve called [the police] about people loitering on Woodridge Drive. I don’t know how that place stays open until 4am, 5am sometimes.”
Schubele was concerned about Dash’s proximity to a residential street and said that the people in the house closest to the club have young children.
“There are other options just right down the street. … On Lawrenceville Highway, that Blockbuster closed, there are lots of empty buildings they could move this thing into. It’s just so close to a residential neighborhood,” he said. “It’s just not a good place to be that close to a neighborhood as it is. It would be better off somewhere else.”
“The thing that bothers me about that place is the type of people that are hanging around and the fact that the parking lot’s full all the time,” said neighbor Michael Holloway, who can see Dash from his front door. His Woodridge Drive house has been in his family since 1953.
He has placed concrete blocks on the edge of his front yard because he has no curb, and he said people have parked in front of his house to go to Dash. He has also had to replace his water meter because of damage from people parking in front of his house.
“People just congregate in the parking lot, and they’re loud, and I hate it, and I want [Dash] closed,” he said.
“I don’t like it being there. It’s my understanding that they kind of opened under false pretenses,” said Woodridge Drive resident Sherry Smith, mother of a teenage daughter. “It’s not zoned for that kind of business.” She has also noticed people parking on Woodridge Drive.
“I’ve heard a lot of noise down there, people driving by with loud voices and loud music at 2 o’clock in the morning,” she said. “I really kind of wish it wasn’t there…It’s just not something you want to have in there.”
Claire French of MANA is leading an effort to send a letter to DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis and the county commissioners about Dash. The letter will be reviewed by MANA’s board to see if the organization can support it before it is sent, according to Firago.
The space Dash occupies was once home to Udipi Café, an Indian restaurant that moved to a nearby Church Street location in April 2009. Another Indian restaurant, Bay Leaves, occupied the space after that, but closed as well, and Dash appeared soon thereafter.
One side of the building, facing Woodridge Drive, is lined with pieces of plywood. Holloway said that the noise from Dash was unbearable until the plywood was installed, but Schubele said they can try to soundproof, but if someone opens the back door, the music flows out to the street.
During typical dinner hours, Dash appears silent.
Aside from a Facebook page, Dash has barely any online presence. It has no official website and little to no information available on websites like Foursquare and Yelp. Its official operating hours are not available anywhere, although the Facebook page is often updated to advertise nightclub events that begin after 10pm.
“Yes, we are aware of [Dash] and we have taken steps to remedy the situation,” Brennan said.