The front of Medusa Lounge in the Northeast Plaza in Brookhaven, Georgia, on Monday, April 23, 2018. (REANN HUBER/REANN.HUBER@AJC.COM)
Photo: Reann Huber
Photo: Reann Huber

DeKalb: With new liquor laws in Brookhaven, nightclubs drop lawsuit 

Months after Brookhaven rolled back its controversial liquor law, a federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by nightclubs who claimed the city was targeting clubs that catered to black patrons.

Three nightclubs  — Medusa Restaurant & Lounge, XS Restaurant and Lounge, and Josephine — are all located along Buford Highway in DeKalb County. They filed suit in U.S. District Court last year after Brookhaven passed a law requiring “entertainment venues” to pay $100,000 for permits to serve alcohol.

That law, approved in late 2017, also prohibited clubs from serving any alcohol on Sunday, a busy night for the three plaintiffs. Their lawsuit accused the DeKalb County city of implementing rules that were unconstitutional and discriminating against clubs operated by and catering to racial minorities.

In July, U.S. District Judge Thomas Thrash Jr. gave the clubs an initial victory by ruling that Brookhaven’s new law was likely unconstitutional and barring it from going into effect while the lawsuit was pending.

The next month, the Brookhaven City Council approved a new law that rolled back many of the controversial changes. Those new rules approved in August removed the higher fee for liquor permits and reinstated Sunday alcohol sales at nightclubs.

Because of Thrash’s July ruling, Brookhaven leaders also decided they could no longer allow the Pink Pony strip club, the city’s only adult entertainment venue, to  stay open later than other nightclubs. 

Pink Pony representatives said the shorter operating hours negatively affected the club’s bottom line and filed for bankruptcy in September. The strip club remains open, however.

Although the new Brookhaven liquor law approved in August addressed many of the concerns raised in the lawsuit, it took time for the Brookhaven City Council and the nightclubs’ attorney to reach an agreement on dismissing the case.

Earlier this month, Brookhaven sent letters to 13 nightclubs -- including Medusa, XS, Josephine and Pink Pony -- saying they had not paid enough in liquor taxes.

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