Former Athena location to house new nightclub

Tuesday, April 21, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — The former home of the embattled Athena nightclub is under new ownership that says it will open a new club there, this time geared to a more affluent crowd.

The new club, which will be called Memoir, will cater to professionals, said Brian Colebrook, one of the business's owners.

"I'm going for a mentality. I'm not going for a demographic, not a crowd, not an age — professionals," Colebrook said.

Colebrook and his business partner, Vinay Atluri, are trying to overcome Athena's specter of violence, which lingers after the former nightclub on the corner of Hitt and Locust streets was forced to shut down after a series of violent incidents.

Colebrook acknowledges that the location carries a stigma. Janice Finley at the Columbia Business License Office asked Colebrook what kind of music they would play. Finley said she was assured that the music would be "versatile," and Colebrook looks forward to, among other things, poetry nights, professional networking events and jazz bands at Memoir.

"Everybody just really wants to be sure that you're not going to do the same thing," Colebrook said.

Atluri said everybody at the city has been cooperative and things have gone smoothly so far.

Athena was the scene of a fight between MU basketball players and two workers on Jan. 27, 2008, when former MU guard Stefhon Hannah’s jaw was broken in front of adjacent Nikai Mediterranean Grill. The club's owners, Daniel Veros and Rashid Kikhia, told the city in a Feb. 12, 2008, meeting that they would "no longer operate as a nightclub."

Veros and Kikhia, however, continued to open the club at night, and a late-night shooting outside the club left one man injured on May 18, 2008; the business license office revoked their licenses in May 27, 2008. Kikhia and Veros appealed the revocation and withdrew the appeal on June 25.

Atluri, 35, said he searched for Athena on Google and realized what he would be dealing with. He said he's not worried about other people's expectations because his are much higher.

Memoir will have a dress code and "we won't bend on it," Atluri said, adding that most of the club's security staff has a military background and that employees will get criminal background checks.

Although the venue has had problems in the past, Finley said she was not worried about the new nightclub.

"I don't see any reason to be concerned at this point," Finley said. "It is a totally different ownership, so we'll see how things go and hopefully, it will be a reputable business."

Atluri said they aim to open the club the first week in May.

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Ray Shapiro April 21, 2009 | 12:32 a.m.

We don't need another "nightclub" serving booze and having loud music. A full-service grocery store would have been nicer for the neighborhood.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr April 21, 2009 | 2:08 a.m.

Well there will be alot of calling from all of the residents in that area I am sure when the first sound of gun fire is heard.

The area has been so nice and quite since the night club closed too.

All we can hope for is the nest.

(Report Comment)
Clyde Barrow April 26, 2009 | 2:54 p.m.

above people are so dramatic... and no that whole area has not been quite ever since the club closed down. you live in downtown thats your fault. if you know all the towns and cities most crimes and fights break out in downtown area, and most clubs are located in downtown area. just couple of months ago there was gun fire by gumbys and daylight donuts and it was due to fight broke on Thursday night party or what ever that was called at bar bellow gumbys how come no one is shutting down place.. your fault for leaving in that time of environment. you can always move.. no one is forcing for you to live there and you cant force club owners to shut down because of the violence. i am not taking any one side. just my 2cent.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro April 26, 2009 | 5:00 p.m.

I consider the old Athena/NY Pizza place location as being off the beaten path of downtown. Prior to that corner becoming nightclub/gun fight city, there was, for many years, a hybrid "package store"-grocery store which seemed to keep busy enough.
The surrounding area is Lee Elementary and is primarily a residential area. Again, a grocery store would have been nicer.
(You could always not patronize this new night club and help out the immediate residents of that area. Then you wouldn't have to tell us all to move.)

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr April 26, 2009 | 5:30 p.m.

Move my aye!! Why in the hell should I move or any of my long term neighbors in the blocks in question around this place have to move when as is commonly known that night club location produces violence,ongoing trash all over the street issues and more.

Athena was supposed to be a better form of night club too in the beginning.

Just tour by there after that club has been partying all night and look at the trash in the parking lot of the church just across the street on the North side and around the corner itself.

Bad place for a night club but some form of a youth counciling service center or program would have been alot nicer to have gone into that building.

They could have made it a drug and alcohol zero tolerance zone still serving food and providing some forms of counciling and games for the youth of this community who really have nowhere to go.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking April 26, 2009 | 6:28 p.m.

ray wrote:

"A full-service grocery store would have been nicer for the neighborhood."

The last one in that area closed 9 years ago. They couldn't make any money. What makes you think another one would do any better?


(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr April 26, 2009 | 6:43 p.m.

More college kids staying in the community now in off school times instead of going home perhaps might have been a reason for the commentary.

There is no other real grocery store in the downtown area.

Lots of reasons. Even if it only opened as long as it's competition across street it might do alright.

Really no different than the one they wanted to build on Garth and Sexton actually. Only this one is just off downtown.

I like my idea better though.

(Report Comment)
KEN GERINGER April 26, 2009 | 7:32 p.m.

Ray, Charles, Ray, Charles, Ray...

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro April 26, 2009 | 7:34 p.m.

I like your idea better, as well. I used the words, "grocery store would be nicer," primarily because I perceive one to be more neighborhood friendly than what's going in now. I felt the same way when Athena opened. A more neighborhood friendly business or private homes would also work for me. Maybe a parking lot for police vehicles would also be nice.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro April 26, 2009 | 8:11 p.m.

Kenny gee...Kenny gee...Kenny...

(Report Comment)
John Schultz April 26, 2009 | 8:57 p.m.

Ray and Chuck, you're always free to raise some money, buy the location from the new owners, and set up whatever is allowed by city zoning in that spot...

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro April 26, 2009 | 9:27 p.m.

How much can I put you down for?

(Report Comment)
John Schultz April 26, 2009 | 9:41 p.m.

Get back to me if the new site becomes a bad neighbor like Athena. Until then, seems like quite the over-reaction to a new business.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro April 26, 2009 | 10:39 p.m.

Fair enough. For now we can consider ourselves three silent partners. (I hope.)

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr April 27, 2009 | 4:41 a.m.

Well ray we need something better down in that area than a place for the homeless and other people who hang out behind the Hitt Street Market most all of the time.

It reminds me of skid row.

I hope Deputy Chief Dresner is reading this comment.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz April 27, 2009 | 7:58 a.m.

Instead of hoping Chief Dresner is reading your comments, take your concerns directly to the police department.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking April 27, 2009 | 8:08 a.m.

The police know all about the guys that hang around in back of Bambino's, Hitt St, and on 9th St. As long as they keep to themselves (don't aggressively panhandle or harass people), they're not breaking any laws.


(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr April 27, 2009 | 8:12 a.m.

Many have already but I know Mr Dresner does read these blogs too.

(Report Comment)

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