Lost Society - the gift you just can't get rid of

It's been only five months since a Lost Society club patron was shot and killed in June on the Char Bar parking lot, causing a chain reaction of legal problems for the club and its owner (or owners, depending on whom you talk to). Let's review...

  • The alleged owner, Brightman Nwatu, was busted by ICE for skipping on his deportation proceedings five years ago in Austin. He is awaiting deportation to Nigeria at a holding facility northwest of DFW Airport.

  • The other alleged owner, Fernando Rosales (photo), and Nwatu, were both charged with filing false paperwork with the TABC. First, they filed papers saying they were in business together, then filed papers saying they weren't. Nwatu eventually pleaded guilt to a more serious charge of serving minors, while Rosales was indicted by a Dallas County Grand Jury for the crime. Rosales was back into the pokey briefly for skipping a hearing, but claims it was a paperwork error at the County that gave him a three-day weekend in jail.

  • Andres Property, their landlord, locked the owners out of the building on allegations of violating their lease - hosting block parties all Sunday afternoon, operating out of hours per the lease, and generally just being assholes. Lost Society took Andres to court and a Justice of the Peace ordered Andres to open the doors for Rosales. Then, to make up for the pain and suffering of being closed, Rosales sued Andres, seeking $80,000 to assuage his ego.

  • After BD found Dallas County Sheriff Deputies working off-duty in front of the club, the Sheriff's office opened a criminal investigation into just how the frig they were even approved to work there. That issue is still pending.

  • A waitress sued the club and it's management, claiming Nwatu tried to sexually assault her on three occasions in one weekend as part of her employee training program. That case is still in the air, as the last attorney just dumped on his client, citing differences of opinion (read - he was not getting paid). Rosales told BD that he was going to separate the club and himself from the lawsuit and liability since he had nothing to do with it, ignoring the fact he owns the club and Nwatu was his employee (or the other owner).

  • The TABC and Dallas County District Attorney asked a district court judge - twice - to let the DA get an injunction on Lost Society's liquor permit, and twice the judge said No. It's a rarely-invoked tactic used by TABC in Houston, but apparently the judge did not want to be the first one to pull the trigger here in Dallas.

  • And finally, BD was subpoenaed by Rosales to give testimony as a non-party witness about his sources of information about his client. BD invoked his rights under a Texas shield law for journalists and refused to divulge his sources, which did not make the attorney happy. On the question of defamation, the attorney asked BD if he would feel responsible if his client, upon getting his CPA license, selling the bar, and trying to secure a job in an accounting firm, were to lose that opportunity because his prospective employer Google'd Rosales and came up with BD's stories about him. BD's answer - Google is a great way to vette a resume. Also, You are asking me to draw a conclusion, and I am not going there.

But despite all his troubles - and those nagging questions about where a 27 year old fresh out of college with an MBA finds the money to fight all these legal battles - Rosales is finally coming up smelling like a rose. Yes, it's a rose growing in a sewer, but it's still a rose.

Documents filed at Dallas County Court of Law #4 show Rosales and Andres used a mediation service to reach an agreement on November 2 (two days before BD was served with a subpoena). Lawyers and others who have read the settlement (click here) say Andres got spanked really hard for locking the doors on Rosales. While there may have been some technical violation of the lease, some alleged violations were not covered by the State's property / leasing laws and could not be invoked. For example, hosting Sunday afternoon block parties starting at 2pm, even though the lease said they could not open for business until 5pm.

And the good news for Lowest Greenville's other scumbars- Lost Society is going to be providing lots of story ideas and leadership for at least four more years, if not longer.

According to the terms of the mediated settlement, the lease was renewed as of June 1st and modified as follows:

Rent of $7,000 per month plus triple net (insurance, taxes, etc)

Lease extended until 2014 plus a three-year option at market value

If the lease is assigned to a new tenant, the new guy gets three months free rent

The hours of operation are 11am to 2am so they can serve lunch

Changing the name of the business does not trigger the free-rent clause

If Rosales is trying to pump up sales by offering lunch, he better have a killer menu and chef in the kitchen (pardon the pun). In fact, it would help if he had a kitchen that could pass a health inspection after years of sitting idle since Suede installed it. Their liquor sales ain't doing too hot either, according to the Texas Comptroller and AlcoholSales.com. In the months after the patron was killed at Char Bar, sales are down nearly 30% compared to the same months last year.









BD cannot wait until Lost Society applies for one of Angela Hunt's Specific Use Permits to stay open after midnight. WIth such a stellar record of beating the system, the permit will be a no-brainer.

There's still plenty of time for Lost Society and its scummy owner to provide stories to BD and the local media, as well as keep the attention of the TABC, which is continuing its efforts to revoke their permit before someone else gets killed out here on the street again.

A number of BD's contacts made an interesting comment about the settlement - They propose that Andres threw in the towel not because the case was a burden, or they were wrong legally (but not morally) in shutting the bar down, but simply because they know sooner or later the TABC will be able to make its case to the courts and revoke the permit. Or that Rosales will be convicted of the false paper charges, which will make it impossible for him to hold a liquor permit (and selling shots in jail is not what we mean). Only time will tell, and we got plenty of that.

During the deposition, Rosales' attorney did not appreciate BD's modifications of Lost Society's billboard after the shooting, claiming the logo was a registered trademark. The man has no sense of humor, as BD had to explain to him in very simple words the concepts public domain and editorial comments, otherwise known as sarcasm. Like we said, small words. He still doesn't get it.

This was the first time in 12 years - but probably not the last - time BD has been served with legal papers regarding his activities on Greenville Avenue. He is still waiting to see if Rosales' attorney has the cajones to drag BD before a judge in order to compel him to give up his sources. BD spotted him at Dallas City Courts handling traffic tickets, but passed on the opportunity to speak to him.

A closing note - When (not If) someone else gets killed in or near Lost Society, BD will be the first one to send a thank you card and flowers to the District Judge who refused to allow the District Attorney an injunction on the bar. It's our way saying, Hey, your honor, you screwed up but we appreciate your concern for a business' right to kill its customers over public safety.

By Avi S. Adelman under Neighborhoods , Safe streets