LAFAYETTE — Karma Nightclub & Lounge, a large downtown bar often at loggerheads with state regulators and city-parish government, has closed.
Attorneys for the owner of the Jefferson Street building where the two-story bar was located confirmed Wednesday that Karma has packed up, resolving an eviction lawsuit filed last month alleging the bar owners did not make monthly rent payments of $18,634 for November and December.
“We’ve entered into an agreement, and they have moved out,” said attorney Stuart Breaux, who represents property owner Canuck Real Estate.
The nightclub was the largest downtown, with a capacity of 1,300, and crowds were often seen lined up along Jefferson Street on Friday and Saturday nights waiting to get in.
Karma’s management could not be reached for comment Wednesday, and an attorney who represents the club did not return a message left at his law office.
The closure comes after Karma had entered an agreement in October with the state Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control to make several security improvements following an extensive ATC investigation into alcohol sales to minors, drug use and violence at the club.
The club’s liquor license was on the line if the improvements were not made.
The agreement called on Karma to install video surveillance cameras inside and outside of the club, to pick up trash around the club during and after events, to notify Lafayette police when large crowds were expected, and to staff 8 to 15 security guards per night, depending on the size of the expected crowd.
The agreement also called on the nightclub to use ID scanners to better detect fake IDs, implement a no-smoking policy on a trial basis and wind down music at 1:45 a.m. — 15 minutes before the 2 a.m. closing time.
The no-smoking policy was in part strategy to curb marijuana use in the club, ATC Commissioner Troy Hebert said at the time.
Karma was also one of the main plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit filed by a group of downtown bar owners in 2012 to strike down a security fee that was used to help pay for beefed-up police patrols when weekend crowds descended on the strip of bars along Jefferson Street downtown.
The Lafayette City-Parish Parish Council approved the special security fee in 2009, but the federal lawsuit prompted the council to suspend collection of the fee pending the outcome of the litigation.
The assessment ranged from $150 to $5,000 a month per bar, depending on capacity — a mandatory payment that some bar owners argue is an unconstitutional tax.
Several of the bars had stopped paying the fee even before the lawsuit was filed, and the litigation came as city-parish government was moving to suspend the liquor licenses for up to a year for non payment.