Dallas sues to shut down 3 nightclubs

A judge granted temporary restraining orders that prohibit three nightclubs — Republic Ranch, Pilikia and The Pretty Diver along Ross Avenue near downtown — from “operating commercial amusement” inside or out until another hearing later this month.


Dallas City Hall has a message for three nightclubs operating along Ross Avenue near downtown: Turn out the lights, the party’s over.

City attorneys this week went to court in an attempt to shutter Republic Ranch, Pilikia and The Pretty Diver, saying all three are illegal operations — bars pretending to be restaurants in a neighborhood where bars are not allowed by zoning. A judge concurred, granting temporary restraining orders that prohibit all three from “operating commercial amusement” inside or out until another hearing on July 17.

The lawsuits, which followed a code raid last weekend, are the latest in a yearslong clash between nightlife spots and Bryan Place residents who say their neighborhood is overrun with drunken patrons and their cars.

Brad Vance, a homeowners association president, said the “issues have gone on for over three years, and this neighborhood has had enough.”

“We have tried the neighborly route of asking for improved behavior,” Vance said Thursday in an email. “We’ve done it multiple times, but all we’ve received is lip service and false promises.”

The neighborhood — once a seedy stretch known for its used car lots — is blocks away from Deep Ellum and the Arts District and has been on the upswing in recent years.

Development, especially of the residential variety, has sprouted on Ross and nearby streets. More is in progress.

Dallas ISD left its headquarters to be mostly torn down for apartments.

But the bars have been a constant, even as they’ve changed hands.

The Pretty Diver

When The Pretty Diver opened last fall, in the space formerly occupied by the Sunset Lounge, owners made it clear they always intended to open a bar — or, as promoter Matt Jones told CultureMap, “Dallas’ first neighborhood glam dive bar.” A review in the Dallas Observer in December said the mural-covered Pretty Diver “comes across as an Uptown parody of a dive bar.”

The Pretty Diver’s certificate of occupancy says it’s a “restaurant without drive-in service.” It also hosts private events and had a hip-hop music festival scheduled for July 14. The city’s lawsuit says that “during events and at late hours, loud music and patrons are a nuisance to the surrounding neighborhoods.”

Steve Reese, operator of The Pretty Diver, declined to comment, citing the litigation.

The Pretty Diver’s entrances on Thursday had handwritten signs in pink construction paper that said, “No Dancing — City of Dallas.”

Pilikia Pilikia, in the former Three Sheets location, bills itself as a tiki bar. The name is a Hawaiian word for “trouble.” The Dallas Observer declared in a review last year that the place was certainly troubled — as in, “It doesn’t know if it’s a laidback tiki bar or a high-rolling nightclub, so it tries to be both.”

City attorneys say it should be neither.

Assistant City Attorney Andy Gilbert said this week that there was also a recent shooting outside the clubs, as well as “sordid activities taking place inside” Pilikia.

Maj. Catrina Shead of the central patrol division said the shooting demanded police attention.

City Council member Philip Kingston, who represents the area, did not respond to a request for comment Thursday.

But attorneys and Vance say he has been advocating for the neighbors.

Republic Ranch

Republic Ranch was always advertised as an eatery — a restaurant by Abel Gonzales, who is best known as the man who deep-fried Coke, cookie dough and butter at the State Fair of Texas.

The spot has banners on fences along Ross telling people they can eat, drink and play there. Republic Ranch even has a delivery menu posted to GrubHub.

But Republic Ranch also occupies the former site of the Bungalow Beach Club, so it has a swimming pool — which Bryan Place residents long complained was a magnet for noise and trouble.

City attorneys maintain that the indoor eatery is just a cover for the backyard pool party.

The city is suing the landlord, who couldn’t be reached through his catering company Thursday.

Jason Friedman, an attorney for Republic Ranch, said Thursday that the business hadn’t done anything illegal.

Friedman said Republic Ranch didn’t have a cover charge and was “allowed to have a DJ play during dinner.”

“It’s hard for me to believe they’re just going through and doing this,” he said of the lawsuit.

Residents and city attorneys hope the legal fight will finally rid them of what they consider a problem.

“This has been bubbling up for a while now,” Gilbert said.

“The city thought they were going to come into compliance by pulling new permits and [certificates of occupancy] for the appropriate uses at the locations.

But they have demonstrated they’re still conducting the same illegal activities.”

Twitter: @RobertWilonsky @TristanHallman

Police: Mom of 2 shoots carjacker

Dallas police say a woman shot a man in the head as he tried to steal her SUV with her two children inside Wednesday night. The woman and her two children were not injured; the carjacking suspect was taken to a hospital.

A woman shot a man in the head as he tried to steal her SUV with her two children inside Wednesday night, Dallas police say.

An employee of a gas station in the 200 block of West Camp Wisdom Road, near the border with Duncanville, alerted the mother about 10 p.m. that a man was trying to get into her SUV.

She jumped into the vehicle.

When the man didn’t stop, she pulled a gun from the glove box and shot him in the head, police said.

The vehicle then crashed into a utility pole.

The mother was identified by KDFW-TV (Channel 4) as Michelle Booker-Hicks.

She told KXAS-TV (NBC5) that the whole incident “happened so fast.”

“I had to do what I had to do to defend what was mine, which are my kids,” she told the station.

She said she told the man her children were in the back seat and to pull over but he didn’t listen, so she went to the glove compartment and grabbed the gun.

The suspect, 36-year-old Ricky Wright, was taken to a hospital with injuries that were not lifethreatening.

He faces two counts of unlawful restraint and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle.

“Just to see him slumped over like I was just like, Lord, my kids [are] in the car,” the woman told NBC5, adding that they saw her shoot someone.

The woman and her children, ages 2 and 4, were not injured, police said.

The victim, who does not currently face charges, had stern words for the suspect.

“I should have just have emptied the whole clip, but I didn’t. I didn’t. I just wanted to give him a warning shot that was it,” the woman told KTVT-TV (Channel 11). “I’m not a killer or anything like that, but I do believe in defending what’s mine.”

Twitter: @LoydBrumfield @clairezcardona