Dispute heats up over The Matrix
Owners of Jillian’s Billiard Bar & Lounge asked to buy The Matrix Nightclub out of desperation, in order to stop noise and violence problems at their shared Islander Complex, the Liquor Licensing Board of Grand Cayman heard.
At Customs Headquarters for the meeting on Thursday were Chairman Mitchell Welds, Deputy Chairperson Lynn Bodden-Smatt, Board member Bernice Richards, Secretary Marva Scott-Dunbar, and Liquor Inspector Donald Green.
One of the business partners of Jillian’s Billiard Bar & Lounge, Mr. Stanley Walton asked the Board to take a harsh stance against The Matrix, which he described as ‘a direct nuisance to Jillian’s premises.’
The first nuisance relates to audio levels, he said. As Jillian’s bar is attached to The Matrix, the vibrations from the nightclub knocks bottles and glasses of the wall and distorts the bar’s ambience, he said.
Jillian’s is a sports bar and the noise from next door affects business, because, although they have eight plasma screens, patrons cannot hear the commentary.
‘They need to contain the sound to their four walls,’ he said, adding that The Matrix had done nothing to sort out the noise issue.
He asked that The Matrix licence be suspended until the sound problem was resolved. This would only take a week, he said.
He also spoke about the violence attached to the nightclub. He referred to September’s Liquor Licensing Board meeting when, during a review of the probation period for The Matrix, the board heard that 21 incidents were reported to police in the vicinity of the club this year until 7 September.
A review of the probation period for The Matrix Nightclub on Thursday was deferred pending the arrival of police reports which were not present at the meeting.
Mr. Walton said while there are never any brawls at Jillian’s, during a sting operation a few weeks ago in which the police were searching patrons from The Matrix, they also searched Jillian’s patrons and this turned customers off from returning. ‘We pay a lot of money to be in business. We don’t need this and can’t survive with this,’ Mr. Walton said.
Former owner of The Matrix, Mr. Harry Lalli explained that he had just sold the nightclub however he spoke as he is still currently the licensee.
He asked why Mr. Walton had set up at the Islander Complex in the first place if the nightclub was such a problem.
Mr. Lalli said that the nightclub only affects Jillian’s Friday and Saturday night, or six hours a week, or less than 10 per cent of its opening hours.
He said the bar’s sporting events go on all week and although Mr. Walton had mentioned that the bar has soft background music, Mr. Lalli pointed out that there are live bands there on Friday nights.
He said The Matrix had insulated its walls following Hurricane Ivan, but Jillian’s had just dry-walled without proper insulation, and this was where its problems with noise lay.
Mr. Lalli said he had already moved music speakers within The Matrix at Mr. Walton’s request. He said Mr. Walton does not want to come up with a solution to the noise because there are costs involved. ‘We’re willing to spend money but he’s not,’ he said.
Mr. Lalli said he believes Mr. Walton has a separate agenda for wanting to shut down The Matrix, and when asked by Chairman Mr. Welds what this is, he said so he can take it over to expand his business.
Speaking on behalf of the new ownership of The Matrix, Wayne Masters said that the nightclub had been purchased in August. However, he said he was ‘drained for cash’ following the purchase and could not afford to buy special insulation. Mr. Masters said Mr. Walton was exaggerating the noise levels. He said that Mr. Walton approached him about purchasing The Matrix.
Mr. Walton said he asked to buy The Matrix in desperation, to get rid of the problems.
With regard to the violence, Mr. Lalli said that the incidents spoken about take place in the parking lot, something they have no control over.
He said he could only think of one such incident happening inside the nightclub in the past three years, and that violence in parking lots and in streets happens in George Town and even at the hospital parking lot.
Mr. Masters said 15 security officers are outside the premises on a busy night and two uniformed police are outside also. He said the nightclub had implemented a system whereby those who commit a violent act around the premises will be banned indefinitely, and there are no bandanas, T-shirts or ‘gangsta’ wear permitted.
‘Mr. Walton’s aim is to put the Matrix out of business,’ he said.
Liquor Inspector Donald Green told Mr. Masters that a lot of what Mr. Walton had said was true.