White Center’s former Club Evo: New partnership, business model

By Deanie Schwarz
Reporting for White Center Now

Alfred Lopez, owner of 9625 16th SW and the now-dissolved entity that did business there as Club Evolucion, has confirmed to WCN that he has a new plan for the space.

He confirms that he has entered into a formal, as-yet-unnamed and unincorporated partnership with Danny Yarbrough (at right, above, with Lopez at left; he’s owner of Citrus) that will develop the former Club Evo space into a Latin “banda” entertainment venue (for 18 and over) and eventual restaurant and lounge.

The partners finalized their agreement this past week and spoke to WCN about the development of the property, which was placed under a permanent injunction through the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office Civil Division in May. The partners have begun in earnest, having already met with DDES, contacted the city of Burien Police and Sgt. Rodney Chinnick, the head of the KCSO’s Gang Unit, as well as contacting the Police Guild about off-duty deputy security coverage.

“We will make sure we get all of the proper licenses and permits before we do anything. We had a meeting with DDES about what we need to do. The first step is the sprinklers and Fire Department inspections. Then the public entertainment and public dance permits and the state of Washington master business license,” Yarbrough explains.

The partners also spoke of in-the-near future plans for outreach to various community organizations to (re-)introduce themselves and their proposed business model. They’re looking at the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council, the White Center Community Development Association, the White Center Chamber of Commerce and the newer White Center Business Owners of Sustainable Support mixer group.

The club was shut down for noncompliance last year and soon after, the property went into foreclosure proceedings. But, the property was not put up for sale as a foreclosure, says Lopez, because he found a group of investors to assist in paying off the 10-year note to the previous owner.

Lopez is very clear to state that the first compliance task is to meet the requirements of the injunction before any business of any kind is to operate at the space in the heart of the revitalizing White Center business district. Those requirements will include any and all of the proper county and state licenses, but in order to apply for licenses, the site’s sprinkler system must be given occupancy approval by the North Highline Fire District fire marshal.

The sprinkler system installation was completed in November 2010 by an approved contractor; however, a completely new and separate water line and meter needs to be approved and installed by Seattle Public Utilities. The Fire Department ordered specific work to be done such as closing up exposed walls and will not be back till the meter and water lines are installed and approved to inspect the sprinkler system.

King County has approved the sprinkler plans on paper and Lopez believes the County will be forwarding them shortly to SPU. If and when SPU approves the plans, the meter installation will be scheduled six to eight weeks out, depending on the backlog of work.

The problematic history of the former Club Evo goes back a number of years and Lopez says emphatically and repeatedly that the space will never be like the former Club Evo again. Once all compliance work has been met and all appropriate licenses have been approved, they intend to open one night a week – Saturdays – as an 18-and-older dance venue with live “banda” music – Mexican country music — Yarbrough says, with salsa and meringue dancing. They plan on operating about four to six months with this schedule to generate initial revenue as they design the 16th Ave facing side of the property for a restaurant/lounge. That work will require major remodeling, including the installation of a kitchen and hood. They say they will not be serving alcohol on the premises during this period.

Lopez is living with his two teenage sons in the upstairs apartments while he finalizes the partnership agreement and oversees the remodeling and compliance work. He is licensed to practice law in the state of Washington, mostly occasional personal-injury cases for friends, he says, but lives most of the time in Southern California. He said that he plans on being in White Center as much as possible as this new business model is undertaken. “I want nothing to do with the old Club Evo. Believe me, “ he said. As if to make his point, he went outside the building and removed the old exterior signage as our interview concluded.

A new coat of paint was put on a few days later.

After the sprinkler system and meter are approved, the next phase of the partnership will be the design work with new partner Yarbrough who, in addition to being involved with Exposure, a promotions company, owned a Belltown restaurant prior to selling it and purchasing the former TGIF site on Lake Union to develop Citrus development in 2010. Yarbrough also worked for Consolidated Restaurants (Metropolitan Grill, Union Square Grill and Elliott’s Oyster House) as a bookkeeper after college, as well as a bartender and assistant manager. He also worked in real estate during the boom market in Seattle and began to “flip” commercial properties soon after.

Lopez told us, “We want to eliminate any problems we had before, the biggest prior one being a hip-hop crowd on Friday nights.“

“This will be a salsa and meringue crowd – cowboy boots and hats and Mexican country music,” Yarbrough added.

“We will be eliminating any issues we had before with minors. And the most important measure, aside from having off-duty officers on site both inside and out, is that a strict dress code will be enforced,” said Lopez. “I forbid gang-related attire.“

“If they don’t come dressed appropriately and are unwilling to undergo a full-body pat down, they will be asked to leave and maybe come back another time,” said Yarbrough, who says he will be acting on site as Operating Manager. He will also be hiring civilian security staff.

They discussed plans for eventually multi-purposing the large dance hall section for rentals, for quinceañeras or graduations, bar mitzvahs or community events and the like once compliance has been achieved and the restaurant has been built out. The dance area will have new flooring and a stage installed, as well as a new lighting system. The hoped-for eventual design phase will include menu development and extensive reworking of the 16th Ave. SW. side of the property to include new bathrooms, kitchen and lounge area.

If everything goes as they have planned, they hope to be open in two months.


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67 Responses to “White Center’s former Club Evo: New partnership, business model”

  1. thank you tracy i could not have said it better myself. I think people have lost sight as to what this discusion is supose to be about.

  2. i will be attending this meeting for sure hope to see everyone else there also…

  3. perhaps alfredo will be able to clear some things up. Jw i would apreciate it if u could print the articles u r mentioning above as i am on a cell phone and it keeps booting me out of every site i get on…i am sure everyone would be interested in having a chance to read them.

  4. Oops, I entered the address Of the fire station where the North Highline
    Unincorporated Council meeting will be held incorrectly.

    The correct address is:

    1243 SW 112th street

    See you there.

  5. Thank you, Tracy, for clarifying the rules of civil discourse. I had been surprised the “race card” hadn’t been used earlier in the “discussion”.

    Now to some facts. Mr. Lopez contends “Unfortunately due to a decline in the economy I laid them off in June 2010.” referring to the off duty deputies he had hired. However, the off duty sheriff’s deputies declined further employment for this reason off of the King County website: “OPERATION OF A BUSINESS IN A SUBSTANDARD BUILDING WITH MULTIPLE FIRE CODE VIOLATIONS AND OPERATION OF A BUSINESS WITHOUT A KING COUNTY BUSINESS LICENSE dated” 07/01/2010.

    One other thing that should be pointed out is what has happened at Mr. Yarbrough’s TWO lounges, Citrus in Seattle and Fusion in the University District. For those of you interested in how he might contribute to a newly reopened Club Evo just do a Google search. There are several interesting observations in the numerous Yelp reviews. Be sure to read them from top to bottom and bottom to top.

  6. Mr. Lopez,
    If you really want to convince the Community that you will be operating under a different business model, perhaps you should open up starting with that different business model from the beginning. Start out with the restaurant first, then expand to evening entertainment later.

    If you open up with a low-key presence afternoons and weekdays, more people who live in the community will feel comfortable entering your establishment and getting to know you and your business. Eventually, some of us would love to have a place to listen to latin music in an environment where a broad range of people feel comfortable.

    If, however, you re-open one or two nights a week with loud thumping music coming out of your establishment, and the sidewalks crowded with people of a very narrow age range (most of whom do not live in the vicinity), then the Community will perceive that you have returned to your old business model.

    Please start out with an approach that is more inclusive of the people who live in the Community.

  7. I didn’t know they had closed until I noticed the absence or significant decrease of King County Police helicopters and police sirens, cars racing through my neighborhood with stereos that shake my walls, gunshots and fights, every Friday & Saturday night– about closing time to 4am. Every single weekend. It was scary. Maybe not all of it was Evo, but why hasn’t it happened every weekend since they closed?
    I am so disappointed to read that this club is re-opening.
    The owner proudly kicks out gang members a whole month for bad behavior? Or kicks them out for a year? How about 86 them PERMANENTLY?
    I am not excited about having an establishment in the neighborhood that is bragging about how they employ the KC Sheriffs for security. A well run club, with a civilized clientele shouldn’t have the need for this.
    How about an all-ages club, or a movie theater? How about a ballroom that caters to all kinds of dance styles like Century Ballroom? Community event center? Community Theater? I don’t see any community outreach. There are no windows, it’s literally closed off to the community. What is being hidden? It looks like king of a cool interior from the photo- why not show it off?
    The owner saying his wife picked the color and basically threatens in a previous post that he hopes she doesn’t see the person, that made a comment that they didn’t like it, on the street? Classy. I really hope he was trying to be funny. I have to agree that the color is so-so, but to each his/her own. Do they have to watch their back going in to Full Tilt because they said they don’t care for it??
    Citrus reviews on Yelp are mediocre. http://www.yelp.com/biz/citrus-seattle-3
    Fusion reviews on Yelp are HORRIBLE. http://www.yelp.com/biz/fusion-ultra-lounge-seattleGreat.
    I can’t wait. If the owner was truly a promoter of a healthy White Center community there would not be this amount of blogging outcry. I just don’t have good faith it’s going to be an asset to the neighborhood. I know there are lots of questionable businesses here, but quite a few invest time and money into improving the community as a whole. I just don’t get a very happy/friendly vibe from this.
    Keep an eye on the police reports, be friends with our deputies and assemble the facts when it comes time for application for liquor license if there are problems, even though we are promised there won’t be any.
    White Center has been getting better each year lately. There are great new businesses, Big Al’s, Full Tilt, Proletariat Pizza, COMPANY, they are doing such a fine job and are great members of the community. I hate to see it go backwards, even by one inch.
    Good luck to the owners and to White Center. I pray that they prove everyone wrong.

  8. it should not matter where the people come from and the point of a dance place is where u can dance to the music an of coures it will have high volume its a dance club there are no dance club that have quiet music so please and who cares if the people who go there r from timbukto or white center so wat that has bothing to do with it . Anyone is able to go where ever they want an u people cant say nothin about it

  9. Hopefully, the new partner will be at the NHUAC meeting as well with Mr. Lopez. It would be interesting to ask about the yelp reviews on Fusion & Citrus and why so many people have stated that both businesses suffer from identity crisis. Interesting reading thank you for all the links.

    I remember that shooting inside the club JW, I was down there and watched all the clientele rush out of the front doors when the gun shot was heard inside. People were even running down the street from there talking about what happened.

    The streets looking like Christmas Thursday through Saturday nights, the entire block from 98th St. to Roxbury lined with KCSO cars and Deputies, and all the violence that occured from the clientle the place drew are not missed Mr. Lopez. I hope it works this time.

  10. First off the gun was not in the club…again NOT IN THE CLUB…The gun was shot right in front of the Mexican Store across the street…Prior to what it says in the media the only shooting incident related to the club was that one in particular… the other shooting outside the gas station on Roxbury was not related to the club in any way…That man was homeless and never came to the club and didn’t get done by any patrons of the club…it was probably a drug deal gone bad

    Heidi we’ve never been open on thursday so its not us but I want to comment on the fact people are saying that there has been a 40% decrease in calls? the first few months even after evo closed there were cops there every weekend due to PAPA’S PUB and thier problems there…Constant gang drug and other illicit activity there not to mention now that the DK Cafe is a popular hangout for those that are gang related as well…and you don’t think that KCSO doesn’t want to make themselves look better by saying its been 40% better? They were there when these supposed problems were there so why didn’t they stop these things before they happened? I’m not one to pull any punches…I WON’T let you sit there and think that everything in White Center is honky dory when its definantly still a war zone…People are still tagging the area, breaking into buildings and cars, and KCSO is STILL RESPONDING TO CALLS ON FRIDAY AND SATURDAY NIGHTS

    And on several occaisions when its mentioned by people that Evo attracted gangs from Yakima? Deputy Hancock said this…the kids he was refering to are from Northgate not Yakima…I know because I know those kids he refers to…you guys think that all the problems were just because of this club when in all actuality the problems were mainly on friday nights which is why they are done doing friday nights…

  11. LT, Actually Evo was open on occasional Thursdays for awhile. I was there and I saw it open several different Thursdays with people in and out, it was low key and not your typical Friday and Saturday night large crowds. Maybe someone other than you had keys and held private parties. IDK.

    On the night of the shooting alleged inside the club, I was outside and saw mobs of people running out of the doors to save their lives as if, and I am surprised nobody was trampled.
    Yes, the sheriff’s office said that the gun was shot inside the club however, so did about 20 other people that were inside the club that had come running out and down the sidewalk.

    In reference to the shooting in front of the Mexican store??? – that was a separate incident. Four people got out of a dark blue car dressed in gang attire and went into the club. 20 minutes later they were thrown out by your security. 15 minutes of arguing with your security, they were allowed back in. Another 15 minutes passed and they were thrown out again, and once again arguing with your security. As they were walking back to their car, the shots were fired when they were standing in the street after the shooter turned around. How do I know this? I was there outside sitting in a chair. Every one started running and ducking for cover.

    The shooter was walking down the street with a gun in his hand like it was no big deal shooting away! The other 3 guys that were with him ran down the street and disappeared. The police came and got the shooter, and then they searched the vehicle that I pointed out and showed them where the others ran. So quit trying to sugar coat crap.

    Anyway, this is all past, I hope the plans turn out to be a nice place for people to have a good time and enjoy themselves with no bullshit, that’s all.

  12. sorry heidi again you are wrong. I know that we wernt open on thursdays because i was cleaning the club on thursdays. Also i know that a certain person was drunk and bothering the sheriff that night and thats why they shooed that person away with yes it was in the club but upon investigation it was determined that it was my pepper spray can that went off and was assumed as a gun. Sorry i don,t want to mention who that drunk person was cause you and i both know that it would do more harm than good so lets drop this subject and know that everything will be fine.

  13. If you wanted it dropped why post now? The club was open on ocassional Thursday nights and if you were cleaning it, you sure had alot of helpers! Anyhow, employee’s and the patriants of the local pubs saw it too. How can that many people all be lying? I couldn’t careless about your pepper spray can going off…KCSO states differently and so did many of the clubs clients…so it might be heresay, who knows. Lucas you can say what ever you want! I wouldn’t worry about it, the owner said you weren’t the clubs manager. So whoever was the manager should know what really happened. Anything else, let me know cause if you want to continue to talk about the past, I know more of the past we can talk about.

  14. What you want to talk about something that happened when I was 12? Sure go right ahead I may be ashamed but not afraid of it. Things happened to me from when I was 5 til I was 10 and as a stupid kid I did the same thing. I’m 32 now living my life and haven’t been in trouble since except for traffic tickets. So please spare me with the threats. I don’t cower because someone wants to bring that up. There isn’t reason to. Its public knowledge.

  15. Hey Lt, I know nothing about you or your past and could not careless about it, and what does your past have to do with club incidents over the past 6-7 years anyway? There are no threats, so not really sure where that is coming from either.

    Stats from KCSO says alot so I can talk about the past incidents pertaining to the club, not to mention eyewitness. So what… you wanna talk about it? Cause now you’re off on some random crap and I have no clue why your talking about your past when the conversation has been about the club, but if you wanna talk about your past go ahead, you can say whatever you want!

  16. KCSO has been sitting in front of the club for 8 of those years so of course there are going to be past incidents pertaining to the club. They are supposed to document everything. See this is the thing too is things that happened outside the club that they were SUPPOSED to deal with. There saying was always “You guys deal with inside the club and we deal with outside the club.” Those were their words. As far as past incidents pertaining to the club, we went over and over this at a past meeting and in a different thread. These are teenagers, most of them rebelling against parents and authority unfortunately. Thats what they do. Its like a parent dealing with a kid that is mouthy only they aren’t our kids. We can tell them not to do something yet they do it anyway. You tell them to not come back and they go somewhere else to do it.

    And sorry I took that as a personal attack when I felt you called me out. Right I wasn’t the manager. I was just a security Dude making sure the other security dudes were in the right place

  17. wow yall white center folk got issues. Let me guess the people that are of gangs and killing other people in white center is the clubs fault to right let me guess this place was perfect before word got out of a reopening of the club now people are just stickin around around waiting. But hey whatever i guess people have to make drama in life to survive. If it were up to me i would name the the club “my hostages” in spanish of course!!!!