The Element’s liquor license was officially revoked Wednesday, Sept. 4 by the Washington State Liquor Control Board effectively ending business at the troubled night spot.
Citing specific incidents of over-serving alcohol and serving to minors, the owners of the Oak Harbor night spot must surrender their liquor license paperwork within 30 days, according to court documents.
“It was never the objective to close the business down,” said Oak Harbor Police Chief Ed Green. “Businesses need to prosper. But there are laws that need to be followed, and when they started to deplete city resources, we need to look at how we can do things better.”
According to city incident reports, the business has a history of disruptions and violence.
In a memorandum to the mayor last year, Green wrote that city officials should consider revoking the Element’s nightclub license based on a series of violent incidents associated with the club, as well as the owner’s failure to follow a series of conditions of the license.
The club has also been the source of a multitude of noise complaints from nearby condo residents.
Meanwhile, Jennifer Olsen, a former employee and manager at Element, has applied for a new liquor license at the same location, but under the moniker Infusion Lounge, according to correspondence with the state Liquor Control Board.
Green said he has discussed the issues at the Element, which need to be addressed by Olsen before the city will agree to allow another night club there.
The City of Oak Harbor filed a letter of opposition to the Liquor Control Board stating that it does not want the same type of business open at that location.
“It is an obvious concern from the City of Oak Harbor, the police department and its residents that the persistent chronic noise, crime and violent criminal activity will continue and it will be ‘business as usual,” said the five-page letter.
The letter was signed by Mayor Scott Dudley.
“So I, as mayor of Oak Harbor, and the Oak Harbor Police Department, oppose the issuance of a liquor license for the Infusion Lounge, LLC (operated by Jennifer Olson). There is a concern the past behavior will continue under the auspices of a new owner.”
In a Sept. 2 email to the Liquor Control Board responding to the mayor’s concerns, Olson said “in all honesty, I have seen the issues and the problems, and have wanted to change the way the business was ran.”
Olson said she plans to replace staff, increase security, provide better training and other improvements to the previous operation.
“All said and done, I am more than willing to completely cooperate with the Oak Harbor Police Department and the City of Oak Harbor officials. I am completely willing to comply with all laws and regulations at all times. I am completely willing to seek help and assistance of law enforcement before there are problems, and to keep communication open to ensure all issues are resolved properly.”
Even if Olsen is awarded a liquor license from the state, she still must convince the Oak Harbor City Council to award her a local night club business license.
According to court documents, on or about Oct. 13, the staff at the Element allowed at least one person under the age of 21 to enter and remain in the club.
On or around Dec. 30, the documents stated, Element staff served alcohol to at least one apparently intoxicated person.
At least one employee was cited for not maintaining the proper liquor serving permit.