A new club in Midtown is preparing to hold a Halloween bash Tuesday evening — promising a costume contest and drink specials — but appears to have overlooked a crucial party planning step: securing a liquor license.
Club L2, located in a nondescript building at 2901 Fannin, opened October 28, according to its Facebook page. But Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission records show no liquor license for that address.
Several clubs have inhabited the space, including Link Lounge, The Mansion in Midtown and Venus. The most recent liquor license issued to the address expired in October 2015.
"We don't have any record here of that address having an active liquor permit," TABC spokesman Chris Porter said Tuesday.
In a brief telephone interview, Club L2 owner Deidre Sam initially said she had secured a liquor license for the establishment.
"We've had one in it for a while now," Sam said.
When the Houston Press told Sam that the TABC records said otherwise, Sam suggested that the club would just let patrons in, and not sell liquor. Sam added that she had spoken with the TABC on Monday and Tuesday.
Given the conflicting answers, a reporter asked Sam to confirm that Club L2 does, in fact, have a liquor license.
"Have a good day," Sam said before hanging up.
Sam formerly owned Club 20/20 on Leeland in EaDo before closing in September to relocate to the Fannin location. Club 20/20 had a liquor license from 2004 until September of this year, TABC records state.
Earlier on Tuesday, a reporter visited Club L2. No signs or advertisements indicate the building, on the corner of Fannin and Tuam, is the home of a nightclub. The door to the venue was open and delivery men unloaded supplies. Inside, more than 40 bottles of liquor sat on the bar.
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Porter, the TABC spokesman, said bars can serve alcohol without a liquor license; they just cannot sell it. He said sometimes clubs will tell patrons to bring their own alcohol and will sell mixers, such as juice or club soda. The presence of liquor bottles at an unlicensed bar, Porter conceded, "to my knowledge, is not something you hear [about] too often."
Porter said the TABC in most cases refrains from getting involved with unlicensed clubs, since it only regulates clubs that have liquor licenses. Instead, TABC relies on local police to take the lead on investigating unlicensed clubs.
Spokesman Victor Senties said the Houston Police Department has a vice squad that polices unlicensed and after-hours clubs. He said the unit relies on complaints and dispatches undercover officers to investigate as necessary.
In recent months, the Harris County Attorney has fought to shut down unlicensed clubs, including at least one in Midtown.