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Culture Lounge & Restaurant surrenders permit amid controversy

The nightclub surrendered its permit so it could avoid the challenges of having it revoked.

NORFOLK, Va. — Culture Lounge & Restaurant surrendered its conditional use permit at a Norfolk City Council meeting Tuesday night after neighbors came forward to complain about crime in the area last week.

One of the owners of Culture Restaurant & Lounge pleaded with Norfolk City Council not to revoke their nightclub permit, also known as a conditional use permit. 

"We’re being looked at as if we’re outside shooting… we’re outside doing something wrong," said co-owner Michael Copeland. 

The attorney representing Culture, Kevin Martingayle, said the claim that what happens outside their club is their responsibility is ridiculous.

"We don’t have guns and badges… we’re not in charge of the streets or sidewalks… what do you want us to do," said Martingayle.

However, Assistant City Attorney Katherine Taylor argued that when they were first granted the conditional use permit, that's what they agreed to. 

She said the permit is not just about what goes on behind the doors of the business, but outside the doors as well. 

"To say that they’re not responsible for what happens outside of their business is to say they don’t care about the community and neighborhood," Taylor said.

The business sits on Granby Street in downtown Norfolk, and Martingayle says the crime and gun problem isn't specific to the area or the nightclub. 

He said the solution isn't to punish businesses but to work with them to stop the violence. 

"You’ve got a successful black-owned business operating on Granby street doing the best they can," Martingayle said.

Following the discussion, before the council could vote on whether or not to revoke the permit, Culture surrendered it. 

With the surrender, Culture is allowed to continue operating as a nightclub for the next week. After that, they can operate as a restaurant. 

Had they not surrendered their permit, and city council voted to revoke it, the business would not have been allowed to operate in any capacity for six months. 

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