WEST FARGO — The Awake Lounge in West Fargo will be closed for two weeks after the City Commission approved suspending owner Ritchell Aboah’s liquor license for 14 days.
City Attorney Jon Shockley said the bar received 23 complaints of a loud party or loud noise between July 29 and Oct. 29. Shockley said that another incident occurred late Sunday, Nov. 18, that will likely result in charges.
If there’s another complaint within 30 days of the suspension, Shockley said he will recommend the city revoke the license. “There have been a lot of violations of this liquor license,” he said.
The suspension of the bar’s liquor license began at 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 20. Shockley said this is the first time the city has suspended a liquor license in recent memory.
In 2017, the city revoked the liquor license of the African Rainforest, an event space on Main Avenue, after it was found to have repeatedly had too many people at events, and police officers said they were not allowed inside, a condition of the liquor license.
The Awake Lounge at 1410 9th St. E., Suite 501, opened this summer in the former space of Divas and Rockstars, a popular karaoke bar, and Maxwell’s Lounge.
The commission unanimously approved Aboah’s license in June. The commission initially denied Aboah a license after commissioners found her previous contact with police to be a concern.
As part of the liquor license application, police checked Aboah’s background and found she was a victim of several domestic calls in 2015 and had called police regarding violations of restraining orders against two acquaintances. She was arrested on suspicion of disorderly conduct in 2016. However, no conviction or citation was found in North Dakota court records.
Aboah appeared at a City Commission meeting this fall to ask for help in mediating the noise complaints. On Monday, Nov. 19, she told commissioners there was a period of time that the complaints stopped.
“I’m not hearing (the noise) outside, but they are hearing it inside their home,” she said of residents who live near the bar.
Aboah said she’s spent $6,000 on soundproofing the building and taken other measures to alleviate the noise. “I have been trying my absolute best,” she said.
Denise Morrison said her front door is only about 50 feet from the bar and that she routinely hears loud music.
“I could have called twice this weekend,” Morrison said. “We call the police, they come, and most often nothing changes until closing.”
Morrison said it’s a poor location for a bar.
“My hope is they would find another location for their business. They are entitled to a business,” she said. “I just don’t want it in my front yard.”