Controversial Fox Point nightclub Penthouse can reopen, state rules

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – A controversial Fox Point nightclub whose business licenses were revoked by the Providence Board of Licenses can reopen – for now.

The state Department of Business Regulation ruled Tuesday that Penthouse on South Water Street can open until the agency holds a full appeal hearing on the city board’s decision to strip the club of its liquor license.

In a seven-page order, hearing officer Catherine Warren found “it cannot be ascertained which party will prevail without a full hearing,” and the club “will not have a meaningful appeal” if it is not allowed to reopen prior to the hearing.

The licensing board revoked Penthouse’s liquor license last week after ruling that it had people on its premises after 2:30 a.m., allowed someone to enter the club after 1 a.m., and violated a city ordinance that prohibits nudity on premises where alcohol is sold.

Providence Public Safety Commissioner Steven Paré quickly criticized the hearing officer’s decision on Tuesday:

The board also revoked the club’s entertainment license, but that decision can only be appealed to the state Supreme Court. Nick Hemond, an attorney for the club, said his clients haven’t decided whether they will appeal on that matter.

Prior to the revocation, Penthouse was temporarily closed by the licensing board after several shots were fired near the club. But the board’s decision to revoke the license was not related to that incident.

Dan McGowan (dmcgowan@wpri.com) covers politics and the city of Providence for WPRI.com. Follow him on Twitter: @danmcgowan