Atlanta hookah bar closes after string of deadly shootings

Controversial Atlanta club shutting down after landlord revokes lease

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Controversial Atlanta club shutting down after landlord revokes lease

A downtown Atlanta hookah lounge has closed its doors following a string of violent crimes that sparked legal action from the city.

Authorities have investigated three deadly shootings at the Encore Hookah Bar & Bistro on Luckie Street. Most recently, a 28-year-old security guard was killed in February after attempting to escort a man away from the bar, according to police.

In a complaint filed in March, the city of Atlanta alleged that Encore “attracts an influx of criminal activity” to the area and asked a judge to grant an injunction declaring the property a “public nuisance.” Over the weekend, the bar announced it was closing.

“They can close our doors, but they can’t take our memories,” an Instagram post stated. “If you haven’t heard, after a long battle with the powers that be, @encoreatl is closing for good. Don’t worry, though. I’ll be back and better...The end of an era. Love y’all. Thank you to everyone who made it everything it was.”

ExploreAtlanta looks to shut down hookah lounge after rash of shootings

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens discussed the issue of combatting violence at nightclubs in general and the Encore situation specifically while speaking to reporters recently.

“Some of them we’ve already dealt with, as you saw with the case of Encore. That took a whole lot of work, it took court and legislation to be able to take care of that, but I don’t want to have to go through all that to deal with nightlife,” he said. “The city is aggressive in how we’re going about it, from code enforcement, putting them on suspension, and those things, and to work with the landlord to evict some of these poorly operating facilities. Yet it’s just difficult to be able to get to court to require it. And the appeals process takes a lot of time.”

By Tuesday, the Encore’s website had been taken down. After the February shooting, the real estate group that manages the property confirmed it had started eviction proceedings with the hookah bar’s owner.

Habif Properties first notified the business in September that the lease would be terminated over concerns of “criminal incidents occurring outside Encore Hookah,” the Atlanta-based company said in a statement. The business agreed to vacate by Dec. 23 but was still operating, the company said. The property group has filed for eviction and a hearing for a temporary restraining order was held last week.

Encore agreed to close the business and vacate the property by Wednesday, Habif Properties said in a statement Tuesday, adding that it was pleased with the outcome.

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A security guard was shot and killed Wednesday morning, Feb. 2,2022 when he was asked to escort a man from a downtown Atlanta bar, police said. The 28-year-old guard was found with at least one gunshot wound when Atlanta police were called to the Encore Hookah Bar on Luckie Street shortly after midnight. (John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com)

Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC

A security guard was shot and killed Wednesday morning, Feb. 2,2022  when he was asked to escort a man from a downtown Atlanta bar, police said. The 28-year-old guard was found with at least one gunshot wound when Atlanta police were called to the Encore Hookah Bar on Luckie Street shortly after midnight. (John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com)

Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC

caption arrowCaption
A security guard was shot and killed Wednesday morning, Feb. 2,2022 when he was asked to escort a man from a downtown Atlanta bar, police said. The 28-year-old guard was found with at least one gunshot wound when Atlanta police were called to the Encore Hookah Bar on Luckie Street shortly after midnight. (John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com)

Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC

Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC

The property company previously shared its grief after the recent deadly shooting.

“Our hearts ache for the tragic loss of life that occurred at Encore Hookah last night,” Habif Properties said in February. “We offer our deepest sympathy to the family of the security guard who was killed.”

Prior to the February shooting, a September brawl led to gunshots that sent several stray bullets into the Georgia Aquarium’s dolphin enclosure, according to the city’s complaint. Five dolphins housed inside the habitat had to be temporarily relocated so the aquarium’s dive team could remove the shattered glass from the enclosure, according to the filing.

Since February 2020, Atlanta police have responded to at least 171 calls for service at the lounge “concerning violent criminal activity,” including homicides, shootings, larceny from vehicles, disorderly conduct, and aggravated assault, the filing alleges.

— Staff writers Chelsea Prince and Shaddi Abusaid contributed to this story.