Complaints lead to probation for 3Topia

Owner says his business is being singled out

3Topia is located at 3800 Ryan St, Lake Charles.

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Lake Charles City Council members voted 6-1 on Wednesday to put 3Topia, a restaurant and bar at 3800 Ryan St., on probation for six months and have its owner take steps to control excessive noise and loitering, provide added security, and begin closing the business earlier on weekends.

The business has received excessive complaints from nearby residents since it opened in late June. The city’s Alcohol Review Board voted unanimously in April to recommend the City Council revoke the alcohol permit.

Darrell Bennett, 3Topia owner-operator, and several patrons said they opposed the revocation. They said the business was being singled out because it is minority-owned.

Lake Charles police Lt. Craig Wright mentioned complaints received since the business opened, including more than 100 for noise, eight for fighting, two for drugs and one involving a person with a gun. He said tickets were issued, and there were arrests for battery and narcotics.

Wright said police were still getting complaints recently, including “four loud music calls” on April 28.

Todd S. Clemons, an attorney representing 3Topia, said Bennett is being “unduly punished,” considering the surrounding area is zoned for a business. He said revoking a liquor license is the “death penalty” for any business. 

Clemons said Bennett, who is black, is being singled out by the board and nearby residents.

“The bottom line: People don’t want him in the area,” he said.

Bennett said the business hasn’t had any altercations or disturbances in the last two to three months.

“I’m doing my part,” he said. “I just want it to be fair. I’m giving this place all I got.”

Bennett said the alcohol board “never gave me a chance.” He said the last citation the business received was in December.

Jay Pinfield, who lives on West Oak Lane, said the issues with 3Topia haven’t been resolved since it opened. He said residents were told the business would operate at normal restaurant hours. But it is open until 1 a.m. or later.

Pinfield said he can’t hear noise “most of the time” after 10 p.m. from Rikenjaks Brewing Co., a restaurant and bar just north of 3Topia.

Theresa Grayson spoke against the revocation, saying 3Topia is “giving us a chance to give (us) a breather.”

“For them to sit here and target him, it’s not fair,” she said.

Other 3Topia patrons said it’s difficult to pinpoint where all of the disturbances come from along Ryan Street.

District E City Councilman Stuart Weatherford, represents the area where 3Topia is located. He said complaints have been ongoing since it opened, and that he supports the views of nearby residents and the alcohol board. 

Weatherford asked for a 30-day alcohol permit suspension, which was added to the stipulations, then later removed. Clemons and Bennett said such a suspension was enough to put 3Topia out of business.

District B City Councilwoman Luvertha August suggested residents who live in the district call Weatherford directly to share their complaints late at night. She said she has fought a similar situation in her district using that approach.

District C City Councilman Rodney Geyen asked the council to give Bennett another chance and asked him to control noise coming from the outside of the business.

“We are about economic development in this city,” he said.

Voting for the probationary period were August, Geyen, Mark Eckard, Mary Morris, Johnnie Thibodeaux and John Ieyoub.

Weatherford was the only councilman to oppose the probationary period.

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