FAIRFIELD, Conn. — People who live near a controversial Fairfield hookah lounge are angry and say the late-night club has turned their neighborhood upside down.
The Sky Hookah Lounge at 685 Kings Highway E. has been open for about eight years, said resident Cheryl Churchill. But its impact on the neighborhood has gotten worse in the last couple of years and generated hundreds of calls to police.
"You have people who are coming there after the bars close," she said. And with that post-bar crowd comes noise, people urinating on the streets and even criminal activity, police said.
"I live on Longfellow Avenue, which is just around the corner. I don't know how people on Berwick Avenue deal with it," she said.
“The neighborhood is very upset and frustrated that this has gone on for as long as it has," Churchill told Daily Voice.
The lounge sits on the corner of Kings Highway East and Berwick Avenue. Inside, patrons can smoke a tobacco through a hookah, but it doesn't sell alcohol.
Fairfield Police Lt. Robert Kalamaras said the department has responded to more than 500 calls for service — some involving serious problems.
In one case, a patron who sped away during a police pursuit is believed to have tossed a gun in a snowbank as he escaped, Kalamaras said.
Recently, a man wrapped his feet around the steering column in a fruitless attempt to prevent police from pulling him out of his vehicle after a police pursuit after he ran a red light and officers found pot in his car.
The lounge owner is Anwar Malas, and the property is owned by Tom Brennan. Churchill said residents have appealed to Brennan to help resolve the issue but in vain.
The hookah lounge is a legitimate business, Kalamaras said, but the problems arise from the clientele it is attracting and the hours it is open.
"It's not the business, it's the collateral damage," he said. "It's a quality-of-life issue."
Kalamaras said the police department has to balance the concerns of the neighbors and of the business.
But in the meantime, Churchill said the residents are considering legal action even though it could be expensive.