- Associated Press - Thursday, August 20, 2015

LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) - The largest bar in downtown Lafayette can no longer be a bar.

The Advocate reports (https://bit.ly/1LkKt50) the city-parish Planning, Zoning and Development Department put The Plaza Downtown on notice this week that it must immediately cease operations.

The city-parish Planning, Zoning and Development Department this week put The Plaza Downtown on notice that it must immediately cease operations.

The manager has no plans on walking away, though he is uncertain what the next step will be.

At issue is a 2003 ban on bars in downtown Lafayette.

It exempted buildings used as bars at the time but stipulated any building vacant for more than one year would lose the exemption.

The Plaza Downtown opened in June in the two-story building at 314 Jefferson St. once occupied by Karma Nightclub & Lounge, but city-parish officials now say the new club never should have been granted a liquor permit or a certificate of occupancy.

“We found out fairly recently that they went longer than a year without selling any alcohol,” said City-Parish Zoning Manager Jim Parker.

Karma was often at odds with state regulators. Just before the club closed, regulators had been pushing for improvements after a state Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control investigation into drug use, alcohol sales to minors and violence at the club.

The building has since been leased to new operators, who contracted earlier this year with Shannon Wilkerson to manage the club.

Wilkerson, a veteran of the bar scene in Lafayette who has owned or managed several clubs, said Wednesday he knew little about the city’s decision to revoke The Plaza Downtown’s bar status.

“I’m still looking into it and trying to get more information on what the history is,” Wilkerson said. “I don’t know how this has surfaced after several months of operations.”

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Information from: The Advocate, https://theadvocate.com

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