PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The Providence Board of Licenses has shut down a Federal Hill nightclub that came under scrutiny after one of its patrons was murdered shortly after leaving the club several weeks ago.
Board Chairman Dylan Conley said Seven’s management was “lax to the point of nonexistent,” and said the club “purposefully operates outside the laws of our state.”
He argued that because of the way the club operates, it has been “indirectly causal to a brawl, two shootings and a murder” since it has been in operation.
Seven’s attorney, Nick Hemond, has appealed the decision to the state’s Department of Business Regulation. He called the board’s decision a “charade” aimed at getting rid of late-night businesses on Federal Hill.
A hearing on an emergency stay of the license revocation is set for 8:30 a.m. on Thursday.
Police said the victim and suspects were all in Club Seven on the night of his death, and left within minutes of each other shortly before 2 a.m. The two groups of friends got into a verbal dispute outside the club on Spruce Street, according to police, and shots were fired outside the club. Video surveillance showed the club’s bouncers reacting to the shots and taking cover inside.
Police said the fight moved up to the street to the Walgreens parking lot on Atwells Avenue. Up to 20 people became involved, police said, and Cabral was beaten and stabbed to death.
Police and city officials called for Seven to be shut down, arguing that the club is being managed poorly and in violation of its licenses.
“Just every step of the way, they purposefully violated the law,” Providence Police Chief Hugh Clements said. “There’s no way they should have a license to operate a business in this city, anywhere. So we’re happy for the board’s decision.”
Cabral’s sister, Nicole Andrade, said the family was happy with the decision to shut down the club.
Video surveillance shown at the hearing contained no evidence that the fight between the two groups of people started inside the club, though it did show bottle service and entertainment that are not allowed under the club’s licenses.
In describing the video, police said Cabral and his friends were being served full bottles of liquor, which is not permitted. The club has been previously before the board for having bottle service.
“Despite being explicitly warned, Seven continued to have bottle service,” Conley said.
Conley said a club’s license can be revoked not just for a single severe infraction, but also a “myriad of smaller infractions” that he said Seven has committed. He listed off some of the prior infractions including having entertainment without a license and not being insured.
“They violate the law faster than we can have a hearing,” Conley added.
Hemond agreed that the club should be disciplined for the bottle service and entertainment but said there was no “causal connection” between the club and the murder itself. He pointed out that the board dismissed a violation against the club last month after a shooting outside because there wasn’t evidence that tied the club to the crime.
But Conley said there need not be a “direct causal link” between the club and the crime.
“A liquor licensee has the responsibility to control the conduct of its patrons both within and without the premises,” he said. Conley pointed out that Seven rented the Caserta Pizzeria parking lot for parking, and had previously agreed to handle the dispersing of patrons from that lot, which is in between the club and the Walgreens parking lot where the murder happened.
The situation surrounding Seven has come as some business owners and neighbors on Federal Hill are pushing to tamp down on the number of late-night clubs in the historic neighborhood. Councilwoman Rachel Miller has introduced an ordinance to put a one-year moratorium on 2 a.m. liquor licenses in the area. Several violent incidents have taken place around 2 a.m. after the clubs and bars let out.