Residents concerned about Mayfair ‘speakeasy’

Go­ing above and bey­ond: May­fair res­id­ents are con­cerned after they say they saw a Face­book post seek­ing “exot­ic dan­cers and strip­pers” wanted at the so-called Above & Bey­ond Urb­an Club at 3504 Cottman Ave. WIL­LI­AM KENNY / TIMES PHOTO

When the flap­pers and wise guys of the Roar­ing ’20s used the term “speak­easy” to refer to an un­li­censed, un­der­ground drink­ing es­tab­lish­ment, they did it for a reas­on.

The idea was to keep the place’s mere ex­ist­ence on the down-low.

But in the age of so­cial me­dia, that defin­i­tion may be chan­ging by the mo­ment. Take the case of a cer­tain May­fair thrift store.

Early this month, neigh­bors of the busi­ness at 3504 Cottman Ave. began no­ti­cing ad­vert­ise­ments pos­ted on Face­book in which pro­pri­et­ors of the so-called Above & Bey­ond Urb­an Club sought “exot­ic dan­cers & strip­pers” in ad­di­tion to bar­tenders and “wait­ress girls” to work at the ven­ue.

“Look­ing to make money or have a home base wvwry [sic] fri­day night also be part of the tour trav­el­ing team,” one post asked. “If your [sic] in­ter­ested get back with me asap Tak­ing Au­di­tions Now”

The same post pro­moted a Feb. 17 “No Valentine All Star Week­end” party and fea­tured il­lus­tra­tions of wo­men in g-strings, lap dan­cing, pour­ing drinks and count­ing cash.

Com­munity lead­ers like Donny Smith, pres­id­ent of the May­fair Civic As­so­ci­ation, ex­plored the ad fur­ther on Face­book and found an en­tire Above & Bey­ond Club page with ex­tern­al pho­tos of the would-be thrift store and in­tern­al im­ages of a busy nightclub. The pho­tos showed dozens of people gathered around a bar and band­stand.

Fur­ther­more, a sep­ar­ate event page provided more de­tails about the Feb. 17 party, in­clud­ing cov­er charges and hours. The party was to start at 7 p.m. and con­tin­ue in­to an “after hour” ses­sion from 3 a.m. to 7 a.m. the fol­low­ing morn­ing.

Nobody had ap­proached the civic as­so­ci­ation with in­form­a­tion about zon­ing or li­quor li­cense ap­plic­a­tions for 3504 Cottman. The as­so­ci­ation last met on Jan. 23. The nightclub posts began ap­pear­ing on Face­book at least as early as Jan. 29 and had been re­pos­ted by neigh­bors on pages like May­fair Mat­ters.

“This all came up after our last civic meet­ing,” Smith said. “But there’s been rum­blings on Face­book from that point for­ward.”

Those rum­blings have also reached the city’s De­part­ment of Li­censes and In­spec­tion.

“We are well aware of 3504 Cottman. They don’t have the zon­ing for (a nightclub), the food li­cense, the build­ing per­mits, the cer­ti­fic­ate of oc­cu­pancy, the spe­cial as­sembly li­cense, the amuse­ment li­cense. They don’t have any of the stuff they need,” said L&I spokes­wo­man Kar­en Guss. “And a nightclub oc­cu­pancy is con­sidered the most haz­ard­ous be­cause of the dangers that in­crease when you have al­co­hol, low light­ing and loud mu­sic. So we take this ser­i­ously.”

City in­spect­ors vis­ited the prop­erty but were un­able to ac­cess it at the time. A North­east Times re­port­er also vis­ited the site on a re­cent Sat­urday af­ter­noon and found the busi­ness closed. The re­port­er called one num­ber as­so­ci­ated with the Face­book posts, but it was no longer in use. The re­port­er called a second num­ber as­so­ci­ated with the thrift shop in on­line list­ings. A man answered the call, iden­ti­fied him­self as the pro­pri­et­or, then hung up when the re­port­er asked ques­tions about the Feb. 17 party.

L&I is still try­ing to speak with the pro­pri­et­or, too.

“We’re try­ing to get in touch with the own­ers now and tell them if they’re smart, they won’t open (on Feb. 17) be­cause we are go­ing to shut them down if they try,” Guss said.

A mer­chant from a nearby store, who asked not to be iden­ti­fied by name, said that the store­front has been a thrift shop-type busi­ness for a few years and a cof­fee shop be­fore that. Peri­od­ic­ally, the op­er­at­or will place mer­chand­ise for sale on the side­walk out­side, such as second-hand baby strollers or bi­cycles.

The ex­tern­al ap­pear­ance of the shop has changed little if at all in re­cent weeks. The ball caps and oth­er ath­let­ic-style ap­par­el hang in the front win­dow, as do leaf­lets pro­mot­ing “new ar­rivals.” But sev­er­al feet be­hind the front win­dow, there ap­pears to be an in­tern­al wall with a door lead­ing to an ad­di­tion­al room.

City tax re­cords show that a busi­ness en­tity owns the prop­erty, which last sold for $395,000 last Feb­ru­ary. The busi­ness is re­gistered to the ad­dress of a town­house in King of Prus­sia. There is no tele­phone list­ing for the busi­ness in avail­able on­line re­cords. ••

You can reach at wkenny@bsmphilly.com.

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