City Council revokes club’s alcohol permit

Mohamed Abdelfattah pleads his case before the Ocala City Council on July 6. The council voted unanimously to revoke the alcohol permit for Time Out, a restaurant and billiard hall that Abdelfattah owns. [Ocala City Council video screen capture]

An Ocala business was stripped of its alcohol permit.

On July 6, the Ocala City Council voted unanimously to revoke the permit allowing Time Out Billiards, 618 South Pine Avenue, to serve alcohol on premises after police and fire officials testified that the bar is habitually overcrowded and is a hotspot for violence and various code violations.

Time Out owner Mohamed Abdelfattah told the council before the vote that he was willing to do whatever it took to keep the alcohol permit.

“I will close on Saturday nights if that’s what it takes (to avoid large crowds),” he said to the council.

“You just don’t get it,” Mayor Kent Guinn replied before the council voted unanimously to pull the business’s liquor-serving privileges.

Time Out’s problems date back a couple of years and were documented in a seven-page memorandum authored by Ocala Police Chief Mike Balken and co-signed by Guinn.

The memorandum lists a slew of code violations and disturbances.

According to the memorandum, at 2 a.m. on Oct. 24, 2020, an Ocala police officer was stationed in the parking lot of Time Out when he heard seven gunshots and saw several vehicles leaving the area in different directions. The officer saw smoke in the air consistent with several gunshots.

No one would identify the shooter.

Between March 1, 2020, and March 27, 2021, Ocala Police have been called to the premises more than 30 times for a multitude of issues, including fights and noise disturbances, according to testimony from Capt. Michael Sommer.

As the problems persisted, Balken required Abdelfattah to employ additional police officers to quell the disturbances.

Balken justified the decision for more police presence at Time Out’s larger events.

“It’s either ten officers or zero,” Balken said about the ability of his officers to adequately supervise the raucous crowds.

Balken also cited officer safety as part of his decision.

“Maybe he (Abdelfattah) needs to hire private security,” Balken said.

Ocala fire officials have also documented a number of occupancy violations at Time Out.

Fire Captain Anthony Ortiz reported that during one routine inspection, he found a locked fence immediately outside the rear exit, reportedly used as a designated smoking area. The locked fence made exit through the back of the building impossible, a code violation, according to Ortiz.

At midnight on Feb. 28 of this year, Ortiz was called to Time Out by OPD alleging the business was dangerously over capacity.

Upon arrival, Ortiz witnessed a full parking lot and a line at the door.

Ortiz spoke with a front door security employee, who was unable to provide a door count and stated that patrons were sneaking into the building through the other door.

Both Ortiz and Sommer testified that the business was well over capacity multiple times. They also found tables and chairs moved off to the side to make room for a makeshift dance floor.

Posted in Business, News

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