The bar at 566 Nostrand. Photo: Google Maps

The owners of Amour Cabaret say their club is safe, sexy and fun.

But members of Brooklyn’s Community Board 3 say the bikini bar at 566 Nostrand Avenue is a gang magnet, and they want it shut down for good.

The bar reopened last Thursday, after being closed for more than a year. The news came as a surprise to Brooklyn Community Board 3 members who voted unanimously for Amour Cabaret to be stripped of its liquor license in January.

Community Board 3 Chairperson Richard Flateau told BK Reader, when Amour Cabaret came before the board two-and-a-half years ago, owners gave the impression it was going to be a networking space.

Photo: Amour Cabaret

“We later found out that it was pretty much a strip club,” Flateau said.

“It became a magnet for a lot of gang violence, and they had a series of police incidents culminating with a young man being murdered in front of the establishment, on line waiting to get in.”

But the bar’s owner Michael Franklin says Amour Cabaret is not a strip club, it is simply a nightclub where women dress provocatively. And it does not attract gang activity, instead it is located in an area known for a long time to be a “bastion of gang land activity.”

“This  whole charade is a vendetta against African-American entrepreneurship and economic empowerment under the guise of accusing a business that creates jobs as unsafe for the neighbor.  It is a form of economic lynching,” he told BK Reader.

Grand reopening

Flateau said Amour Cabaret closed soon after the fatal shooting on March 3, 2020, coinciding with the mandated closure of bars during the pandemic.

The club’s liquor license later expired, and its owners came before Community Board 3 in January to get a letter of support for its renewal. However, Flateau said the Board unanimously voted to submit a letter of non-support on its renewal license to the New York State Liquor Authority (SLA).

“It’s rare that something like that is is unanimous,” he said, saying more than 30 members agreed. “No one felt they were contributing any thing positive for the community.”

Photo: Amour Cabaret

Before the shooting, the bar was the site of protests. In October 2019, members of Brooklyn clergy led a prayer protest outside the club, asking for “divine intervention” to have it closed.

Despite its letter of non-support, the Community Board saw a notice on Instagram that the club would reopen June 3.

Flateau said Amour Cabaret was able to sell alcohol temporarily while its license was being considered. This is due to a provision under the State Administrative Procedure Acts that is protecting bars from being hurt by pandemic-related delays in the SLA.

“That’s why were trying to get them shut down, they’ve been able to reopen under a loophole,” Flateau said.

Photo: Amour Cabaret

On Friday, Community Board 3 sent another letter to the SLA, Governor Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio, the Brooklyn Borough President and other local politicians calling for the immediate revocation of Amour Cabaret’s liquor license.

“We cannot allow this establishment to continue to be cloaked with legitimacy while exploiting a loophole that risks the safety of our families and neighbors,” they said.

Since January 1, 2019, the NYPD had 10 complaint reports on file for crimes at the venue including homicide, assault, robbery, gang assault, strangulation and harassment, the 79th Precinct told BK Reader.

It also recorded 37 summonses issued at the location and 6 people arrested inside or in front of Amour Cabaret.

“The Commanding Officer of the 79th Precinct is aware of community complaints at 566 Nostrand Avenue,” police said. 

“The 79th Precinct has received numerous complaints and are working to correct the condition and address community concerns… Precinct personnel have conducted and will conduct additional patrols at the location.”

Bar responds

Amour Cabaret spokesperson Michael Franklin told BK Reader he intended to fight the community board’s “unfortunate” opposition to his club.

“In good faith, we invested in a community and tried to create vibrant nightlife on Nostrand Avenue. 

“Looking and dressing attractive and sexy has always been and will always be apart of our culture,” he said.

Photo: Amour Cabaret

Franklin said the club’s concept is fun, safe and enjoyable, and that — to date — it has had zero incidents of underage drinking, serving patrons while visibly intoxicated or drinking and driving. He added that the club’s record was the “very essence” of responsible of a liquor license and establishment.

“Yet, we are vilified and condemned.”

“I do not know the reasons or rationale for such opposition, but as an entrepreneur of color in New York City that lives and invests in the community, I am going to continue to fight for equality of economic opportunity.”

Franklin said he, too, would like the local police department and community leaders to enact measures to clean up and prevent gang activity on Nostrand Avenue around the club. He said the fatal shooting on March 3 last year had “absolutely nothing to do” with Amour Cabaret.

He has videos that show the 26-year-old victim was killed standing near the venue, but not on line.

“He was not on line and he was not a customer of the club but rather using the club as safety while he was being followed,” Franklin said.

“I call on the legislature and Governor to rescind bail reform. I call on gun control.  The safer the neighborhood the better it is for my business.”

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Jessy Edwards

Jessy Edwards is a freelance writer based in Bushwick. Originally from New Zealand, she has written for the BBC, Rolling Stone, NBC New York, CNBC and her hometown newspaper, The Dominion Post, among others.

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