City Commission Might Close House Nightclub, Owner Claims Rivals Are Behind "Witch-Hunt"

UPDATE: City commissioners postponed a decision on the club for another six months. Lowe said he is relieved, but only temporarily. "I don't believe the war is over," he said.

The fate of Wynwood's only nightclub could come down to a debate over Grandpa's wrinkled nutsack. Let me explain. This morning, city commissioners will consider whether to shutter House Nightclub. The upscale spot at 1915 NW Miami Ct. is the brainchild of Mark Lowe. House opened only five months ago after Lowe fought for years to obtain the proper permits.

Now, however, the city is considering closing House amid a flood of mysterious complaints. Lowe says he is being sabotaged by his downtown rivals.

"This is such a witch-hunt," Lowe says. "This club is my soul. It's my business. I'm just asking to be left alone."

See also: House, Wynwood's First Megaclub, Faces Fight From Downtown 24-Hour District

The saga dates back to last fall, when Lowe applied for a liquor license.

Lowe asked for a 5 a.m. license (the latest allowed outside of the 24-hour downtown entertainment district), but was met with opposition from downtown club owners.

Michael Slyder, co-owner of downtown 24-hour club Mekka and president of the Miami Entertainment District Association (MEDA), wrote to Planning and Zoning officials to appeal House's 5 a.m. license.

"This proposed bar does not meet the requirements of a Supper Club," Slyder wrote in October. In another email sent to an assistant for Commissioner Marc Sarnoff, Slyder asked to meet to discuss House.

Ultimately, Sarnoff and his fellow commissioners awarded House a less-lucrative, 4 a.m. license. But they also agreed to rehear the club's request for a 5 a.m. license a year later.

A year has now passed, but rather than consider a 5 a.m. license, commissioners are thinking about closing the club instead.

Lowe says things started going sour last month, just as House's business was beginning to boom.

"MEDA had a meeting last month about stopping House, since we were doing so well," he says. "All of a sudden we started getting noise complaints. We are literally in a no man's zone. We are across from a concrete factory. And our nearest neighbor is a half-mile away. It's unbelievable."

City inspectors gave the club one warning about the noise, Lowe says, but never issued a ticket. Yet House was also inundated with anonymous email complaints, some of which were also sent to local media and city commissioners.

"As a concerned landlord, you should know that House Night Club does not serve food, which may be in violation of its liquor license, leading to possible loss of license and future inability to lease the property as a venue," reads an anonymous Sept. 26 email sent to Lowe's landlord. "We do not believe that the building even has a kitchen despite a menu posted online by House."

House's menu is a hotly contested topic, however. Under the terms of its 4 a.m. supper-club liquor license, House must provide prepared food.

The club's website lists a dozen items with outrageous names, such as "Mommy swallows," "skanky lobster," "jizz finale," "herpes pudding," "clymidia casserole," and -- of course -- "Grandpa's wrinkled nutsack."

"We had to do something to set up a license," Lowe admits. "I wanted a farcical menu that no one would take seriously." He says House serves items like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to fulfill its supper-club license.

KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Michael E. Miller was a staff writer at Miami New Times for five years. His work for New Times won many national awards, including back-to-back-to-back Sigma Delta Chi medallions. He now covers local enterprise for the Washington Post.

Latest Stories