Is it a curse? Harlow's on the Hill, a popular venue for local and touring acts, shut its doors after the state's Special Investigation Division (SID) arrested bar operator James Lambros on Sept. 13 and charged him with selling liquor without a license, according to a news release.
Club Rhythm and Blues, another live-music hot spot, occupied the building at 3523 Central until 2004. In August of 2005, owner Dana Jarvis was accused of heading a multi-state marijuana trafficking ring, according to an Albuquerque Journal report.
So what's up with that place? Does the building have bad mojo?
Not exactly. See, the license for Harlow's was owned by Jarvis, says Jim Plagens, deputy director of SID. But after a two-month investigation and a search of the bar and Lambros' residence, SID discovered Lambros was profiting from the license, not Jarvis. SID wouldn't comment on the specifics of the case, such as how Lambros was able to use the license, since it is under investigation.
Harlow's has been open for more than a year.
"You have to have a liquor license to profit from the sale of alcohol," says Peter Olson, spokesperson for the Department of Public Safety. There are processes bar operators can go through to lease a license from someone else, he adds.
Plagens says SID got the tip-off about the improper license from the U.S. Marshals Service, the temporary landlord of the property, while Jarvis' case is litigated. "It's not that they don't have a liquor license," says Susan Finley of the Marshals Service. "The Marshals Service was involved because there was a protective order asking us to collect the rent and the mortgage." According to a Journal report, the government wants Jarvis to forfeit property purchased with profits from the alleged drug trafficking. That includes the now-purple building at the corner of Carlisle and Central that was Harlow's.
Neither SID nor the Marshals Service would comment on why it took a year to figure out that Harlow's wasn't operating under a proper license. The matter is still under investigation, they say.
As of Monday, Sept. 25, Lambros was still an inmate at the Metropolitan Detention Center and could not be reached for comment.