HoB Sunset Avoids Sanctions

Recent reports of security problems inside and outside of the House of Blues in West Hollywood, Calif., resulted in an Oct. 6 city council meeting to consider sanctions against the club.

An agenda item to consider suspension or revocation of HoB’s license was put on the West Hollywood City Council agenda and the matter was discussed at its early October meeting but, as of press time, no action has been taken.

Live Nation declined to comment on the issue, but HoB GM Jim Uhl spoke at the meeting and received the support of other business owners in the increasingly upscale community.

Uhl spoke to the council of the financial and community support HoB brings to West Hollywood, and explained measures taken since a Sept. 4 brawl involved about 100 people and spilled onto the streets.

“In terms of business impact, the House of Blues has revenues in the $16 million to $17 million range,” Uhl told the council. “I believe we are in the top five of sales tax contributors in West Hollywood. We have about 300,000 visitors a year and we employ 250 people, many who live in West Hollywood, with about 25 managers and supervisors. It is important to realize the number of visitors we have in a year.”

A team of West Hollywood officials led by Paul Arevallo met with Uhl and House of Blues COO Jim Jablonski, HoB President Deb Eybers and Live Nation President Rick Mueller, a source close to discussions told Pollstar. Live Nation is House of Blues’ parent company.

During the council meeting, Uhl described the night of the melee and what steps HoB and Live Nation hope will prevent a repeat.

“The House of Blues was deeply troubled by the last incident,” Uhl said. “There were no warnings that night that this was going to happen. I was in the venue until 10 p.m., and there were no indications that trouble was coming.

“It is important to note that we always have a team of managers and supervisors on nightly and on this evening there were five qualified managers/supervisors on duty. Our security goes through extensive training, which includes situational education to keep incidents from escalating.”

Uhl informed the council that changes were discussed in the immediate aftermath of the incident, which occurred during a Three 6 Mafia concert.

A week after the meeting, the Los Angeles Times published a lengthy piece on recent changes along the Sunset Strip, which was the scene of 1968 riots immortalized in Buffalo Springfield’s song, “For What It’s Worth.”

The once-gritty business district is gentrifying and going upscale. The Bel Age Hotel has been remodeled and houses Gordon Ramsay’s London West Hollywood restaurant. The Mondrian Hotel is nearby with its ritzy Skybar, and even the infamous “Riot House” – the Hollywood Hyatt House – has been remodeled and rebranded as Andaz, one of the chain’s high-end resorts.

These newly glamorized digs share a boulevard with longtime nightlife stalwarts including the Whisky A Go Go, Doug Westin’s Troubadour and The Roxy. The House of Blues is a newer addition to the Strip’s vigorous nightlife and attracts an upper-end clientele, despite its Southern “shack” aesthetic.

In recent years, West Hollywood officials have attempted to clean up the district, and HoB is not the first nightclub to be threatened with sanctions.

The city revoked the conditional use permit of Dublin’s Irish Whiskey Pub in 2004, citing repeated issues with violence, overcrowding and underage activity, according to the Times.

The paper reported that members of the community didn’t believe the House of Blues would suffer the same fate and were confident the club and city would work out an acceptable security plan in the future.

“It’s an unfortunate situation,” West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce exec Sharon Sandow told the Times. “I feel strongly that it will all be remedied. They are very responsive,” she said of HoB.