Nara Lounge can reopen for Columbus Day festival

Providence

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The Federal Hill hookah bar where a murder took place last week will be allowed to reopen in time for the Hill’s popular Columbus Day festival, with certain conditions.

Nara Lounge reached an agreement with the city of Providence ahead of a Board of Licenses show-cause hearing Thursday that will allow the establishment to open on Friday, until at least Wednesday when it is due back before the licensing board.

The hookah lounge will only be able to open its first floor, and must close at 1 a.m. instead of 2 a.m. The club also is required to hire police detail on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and can have security on Monday and Tuesday before going back before the board on Wednesday.

Potential discipline for the bar is still on the table.

A crowd of supporters, including employees, attended Thursday’s hearing at city hall. The group was hugging and celebrating outside the hearing room.

Police said Troy Pine, 46, was stabbed to death inside the lounge last Wednesday. The bar did not have security on duty at the time, apparently because of a miscommunication with the security company.

Police are still searching for the suspected killer, Joel Francisco of Pawtucket.

Nara was shuttered for three days following the murder, and agreed to be closed another several days as the club’s attorney worked out a deal with the licensing board to be open for the annual festival.

On Wednesday, a former bartender sent a letter to the licensing board’s chairman Dylan Conley urging the board not to allow the club to reopen.

Ashley Reynolds claimed management was not serious about safety, and said she was assaulted while working there over the summer.

‘We think the city’s decision at this time as a compromise is probably the best decision for the restaurant, its employees, its patrons and Federal Hill as a whole,” said Rick Simone with the Federal Hill Commerce Association.

He contrasted the hookah lounge with Club Seven, which was shut down over the summer after a murder took place up the street.

“This has not been a problem establishment,” Simone said of Nara. “Every venue has to take responsibility for the things that happen in their venue.”

He also said issues of “nuisance” on Federal Hill had improved since the closure of Club Seven. He said the commerce association strongly supports the new foot patrols initiated by Providence Police after the most recent academy added dozens of officers to the ranks.

Steph Machado (smachado@wpri.com) covers Providence, politics and more for WPRI 12. Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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