UPDATED: Rich's Abruptly Shuts Down Again, Under Another Cloud of Mystery
UPDATE (Monday, 5:45 p.m.) Cade Michals is a spokesman for Rich's Sacred Ground, not a partner.
Photo by Julian Bajsel Rich's in slightly happier times -- DJ Ferry Corsten's show in May 2012
No doubt this is not the way Rich's wanted to celebrate its 30th anniversary this year. The most recent tenants of the long-running and equally star-crossed Midtown dance club closed their doors Friday with no reason given but a promise to return, according to a post on the club's Facebook page.
"We regret to inform you that Rich's has closed its doors," the message said. "Thank you for all the years of support and stay tuned for future announcements regarding shows, promotions, etc! Thank you Houston!"
A further note by Rich's in the comments section said, "We will be announcing new plans soon! Thanks for all the love and support!"
Anthony Morello of Sine Entertainment, the promoter of the Fully Loaded rotating-DJ event that had been scheduled for Saturday night at Rich's, posted this message on his Facebook page:
"We were taken by surprise just like most of you, and still don't have many details other than what is currently out on social media," it said. "We want to assure you all that we are NOT cancelling FULLY LOADED and are actively and aggressively looking for a new home for it. We will keep everyone updated with details as soon as we have them."
Most recently, Rich's was sued by a promoter who alleged that the club's then-current operators, doing business under the name Rich's Sacred Ground, refused to provide an accurate accounting of liquor sales in conjunction with a party hosted by the rapper Jay-Z over NBA All-Star Weekend in February.
According to the Courthouse News Service, the suit brought by All Pro Management alleges "Defendants brought in outside alcohol that did not have the TABC stamps to accurately track the inventory. Likewise, defendants did not ring up all liquor sales on their point of sales system. In fact, defendants probably manipulated the POS system to reflect lower sales and pay less taxes and charges to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission."
On Feb. 19, the Tuesday after NBA All-Star weekend, a Harris County judge granted a restraining order against the club, enjoining them from "disposing or secreting any cash funds" or destroying any evidence and and ordering them to produce documents relating to the business, including bank receipts and security-camera footage.
Houston Press staff writer Craig Malisow, who reported on the lawsuit for Hair Balls in February, says that he has not heard any further updates about that case.
Rocks Off ran a quick records check on the TABC Web site, and it confirms that Rich's Sacred Ground was cited for a cash-law violation and given a written warning on Feb. 19. It also owes almost $117,000 under the agency's credit law to Mr. B's Bar Supply and Liquor of Pasadena as of March 4, records show.
TABC spokeswoman Carolyn Beck says a cash-law violation essentially means bouncing a check, and that a liquor bill that steep meant that the club would be unable to buy wine or distilled spirits from any other liquor wholesaler until the debt is paid. Closing its doors Friday night could mean the club ran out of alcohol, she added.