Denver hookah bar agrees to close after shooting injures one

Denver opened a nuisance case against the owner of the property where Marrakech Hookah Lounge operated late last month after a shooting at the site.

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The Marrakech Cafe and Grill on Colorado Boulevard. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)  middle eastern food; university hills; colorado boulevard; denver; colorado; kevinjbeaty; denverite

The Marrakech Cafe and Grill on Colorado Boulevard. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

A hookah bar in the University Hills neighborhood decided to shut down this month after facing legal action from the city of Denver.

Denver opened a nuisance case against the owner of the property where Marrakech Hookah Lounge operated along South Colorado Boulevard late last month after a shooting at the site. To avoid possible penalties from the city — including having its building temporarily closed — the property owner agreed to pay $2,000 and stop operating as a hookah bar for at least three years, court documents show.

“The City Attorney’s Office worked with the Denver Police Department and both did a great job to address the public safety issues surrounding that business,” said Dan Rowland, spokesman for Denver’s Excise and Licenses department. “Credit goes to the property owner as well. He was very cooperative in working toward the settlement.”

The property owner’s son and the son’s “knucklehead friend” were operating the hookah bar, Rowland said. The dad quickly closed down their operation after the city took legal action.

Marrakech Hookah Lounge operated at 2290 S. Colorado Blvd. in the same building as the Lebanese restaurant Marrakech Cafe & Grill. The space is owned by Amal Inc., a Denver-based company registered to Mohammed Alazeem.

During a call to the business last week, an unidentified man told Denverite, “We closed our hookah bar. We don’t need to talk about it anymore.” Then he hung up.

Police have responded at least eight times this year — 27 times in 2016 — to the site at the corner of South Colorado Boulevard and East Iliff Avenue for everything from the illegal use or possession of drugs and alcohol to the unlawful discharge of a weapon to assault, according to police data.

On March 12, a shooting at the site left one injured, said Doug Schepman, spokesman for the Denver Police Department. Schepman said Tuesday the case was still open, and there were no arrests associated with the incident. No other information was immediately available.

Under its settlement with the city, Amal cannot use its property for a hookah bar and has to keep the site free of drugs and firearms. Amal also agreed to allow inspections by Denver police “at any time without prior announcement.”

“Any violation involving assaults, disturbing the peace, violation of protective orders or prohibited noises that occur on, in or by use of the property … shall be considered a violation of a condition of occupancy,” the settlement states.

In exchange for following these rules, Amal can continue to have the Marrakech Cafe & Grill restaurant operate at the site and apply for a limited liquor license for the restaurant.

Councilwoman Kendra Black, who has previously voiced concerns about crime around hookah bars in her district, said at a public meeting this month that she was happy Marrakech Hookah Lounge was closed because it was “a bad neighbor.”

Business & data reporter Adrian D. Garcia can be reached via email at agarcia@denverite.com or twitter.com/adriandgarcia.

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