As Seaside Heights continues to move on from the image of a hard-partying town in the MTV show “Jersey Shore” that premiered nearly a decade ago, the nightclub that rose to prominence on camera will spend another season with its doors closed.
The Seaside Heights borough council this week denied renewal of a liquor license for Karma, a nightclub on the Boulevard, for the second season in a row amidst a state investigation into trouble during a raucous party last year as well as the club’s violation of a rule requiring food sales on the property.
Piling on to the nightclub’s problems, its owner, Saddy Family LLC, filed for bankruptcy in March, citing debts up to $10 million and less than $50,000 in assets. The bankruptcy covers both Karma and the nearby Bamboo nightclub, which has occasionally been open in recent months.
“It’s a continuation from last year, as the ABC case hasn’t been heard,” said Borough Administrator Christopher Vaz, referring to complaints being considered by the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Commission.
The commission is investigating a party that took place on Memorial Day weekend in 2018 which led to the initial revocation of the license as well as new ordinances cracking down on nightclub activities and banning so-called “18 to party, 21 to drink” events in town.
Karma, specifically, is facing two separate allegations of violating local laws.
The basis for the liquor license denial was numerous alleged violations arising out of the “Hyperglow” party held on May 27-28, 2018. Borough officials have said the event included multiple incidents of underage drinking, several drug overdoses and the allowance of minors inside the club. The club owners, in court papers, denied the allegations.
A request for injunctive relief to physically shut down the nightclub last summer was based on an alleged violation of the borough land use code. A 2008 approval for Karma states that the facility must operate a “full restaurant service to be run by an independent restaurateur on the first level.” Until this season, the popular Savor restaurant was located adjacent to the nightclub, but its owners closed after, sources said, Saddy would not offer them a guaranteed lease for the season since the building is for sale. Savor’s owners have since opened a new restaurant in Monmouth County.
A 2002 approval by the borough stated that “the bar portion of the proposal is of a more answering nature to the principal use as a dining/banquet facility.”
Vaz said the club’s owners may apply to keep the license under “pocket,” or inactive, status.
“It’s all been hanging out in the administrative law process, so pocket status is probably a relief,” said Vaz, adding that the borough does not want to see the property abandoned with its lights off, but cannot tolerate the alleged violations.