Allegheny County district attorney's office gets emergency order to shut South Side bar Levelz

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The Allegheny County district attorney's office obtained an emergency court order Friday to shut down Levelz Sports Lounge on the South Side.

"We had a meeting with the owners to try to talk some sense into them, but they did not comply," DA spokesman Mike Manko said.

The bar was also contacted by the county's Nuisance Bar Task Force.

The bar's owners could not be reached immediately for comment.

The DA's office has been meeting with Pittsburgh police and various South Side neighbors and business owners to figure out how to handle the troubled bar.

"Levelz had a chronically irresponsible and negative history that resulted in the decision to close the establishment," city Councilman Bruce Kraus said. "This was something the owners and operators of the establishment brought on themselves, and Friday they paid the price."

In all, 36 nearby businesses as well as community groups and Mr. Kraus signed complaint letters addressing the concern for the safety of their employees, customers and constituents and the negative impact Levelz had on commerce, according to the DA's office filing.

The president of the South Side Chamber of Commerce, Kim Collins, wrote in a letter to the DA's office that problems with Levelz were persistent and widely known.

"We agree with the assessment that Levelz has had its fair share of chances to correct problem behavior and at this point should be permanently closed," she wrote. "We would like to see a more proactive approach to problem establishments and to work with our local government officials to explore what more can be done before another unfortunate incident occurs in our community."

The order to close was taped on the bar's front door along East Carson Street.

The doors were locked. No one was inside, but people walking down the sidewalk peeked in to see only a dark room with bar stools flipped onto the countertop and chairs tossed on the table.

According to documents filed seeking the order, District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr.'s office documented 33 separate police responses to Levelz from January 2011 -- the month after it opened -- through July 2013.

Incidents at the bar have resulted in many charges, including attempted homicide, aggravated assault, simple assaults, sexual assaults, thefts, resisting arrest, public drunkenness, gambling and drug possession.

In late October, a massive fight broke out there during which police used pepper spray.

Mr. Kraus said in February the bar brings danger to East Carson Street and was a strain on police resources.

Levelz has also run afoul of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, which issued its license.

In 2011, Levelz accumulated $8,550 in fines and two license suspensions for serving alcohol to minors between August and December.

In 2012, the PLCB fined the bar's owners $500 for failure to remove people lingering outside the bar a half-hour after the bar closed.

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Kelton Brooks: First Published August 2, 2013 4:30 AM


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