Harris County Shuts Down Three More After-Hours Clubs

Envy Lounge in Houston advertised itself as an after-hours club.
Envy Lounge in Houston advertised itself as an after-hours club. Screen grab from Envy Lounge Facebook page

The Harris County Attorney’s office continued its crackdown against after-hours clubs in Houston, obtaining court orders that have led to the closing of three unlicensed bars in the city.

After undercover police raids, Palacios After-Hours, Envy Lounge and Climax Lounge all received orders from Harris County judges to cease selling alcohol and have since shut down. That makes ten unlicensed bars that have closed in the past two months after lawsuits filed by the county attorney’s office.

After-hours clubs often open as other bars are closing because of the Texas law prohibiting the sale of alcohol after 2 a.m. These spots typically attract younger crowds, including minors, and can be a nest of criminal activity, according to Rosemarie Donnelly, Harris County assistant attorney.

The order claims that Envy Lounge is “notorious for criminal activity and violence” and that police have responded to numerous calls about violent assaults and other crimes. In the past month, 22 calls were made to local police about Envoy, mostly consisting of noise complaints but also including a report of a discharged firearm, according to the Houston Police Department.

A judge ordered an injunction against the property of the owners of Envy Lounge, Prosperity Group Investments of Houston, after undercover vice officers entered the club at 6821 South Gessner and were served drinks by bartenders. According to court documents, after the officers alerted an arrest team to enter the bar, the bartenders left their stations and attempted to blend into the crowd as other employees whistled to alert their colleagues to the presence of the police. Three bartenders were arrested and charged with selling liquor without a license and during prohibited hours.

Soon after Envy closed, the venue’s Facebook page started promotions for the opening of a new after-hours club called “Climax After Hours” on Richmond Avenue – even though the court order prohibits both property owners from leasing a space to anyone without a liquor license or who is operating an after-hours club.
A flyer from bar Palacio After-Hours - FROM HARRIS COUNTY COURT DOCUMENTS
A flyer from bar Palacio After-Hours
From Harris County court documents
This is not the first time Prosperity Group Investments of Houston has been targeted by Harris County. The city filed an injunction against Eclipse Gentlemen’s Club and its owners in 2013 after a string of reports that included seven sexually oriented business violations – or of county rules that pertain to places like strip clubs, adult cabarets or erotic movie theaters – as well as two prostitution cases and a handful of drug and controlled-substance cases. A year later, the club received local media attention after a 27-year-old pregnant woman was beaten to death inside.

Palacios, located at 141 North Sam Houston Parkway, was also busted after undercover officers ordered drinks inside. Flyers from the club boast that it is Houston’s “number one Latin After Hours night club” and include a photo of four women holding clear plastic cups. It advertises the club as open from 2 a.m. to 7 a.m. seven days a week.

That flyer reflects the boldness, or at least lack of awareness, of these clubs and their owners, according to Donnelly, who said that in her talks with owners, they are typically surprised about any illegal operations.

“The whole notion that an after-hours bar is not illegal is false,” Donnelly said.

The three clubs join two other now-defunct bars, Club Life, which closed in March after numerous violent incidents, and Insomnia Lounge.
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Joseph Fanelli is a reporting fellow at the Houston Press with an interest in education, crime and eccentric people everywhere.