Azeneth Domínguez, whose lease at Saluté International Bar expires July 31 after a 25-year run, was locked out of the legendary venue on July 30.
According to new owner Casey Lange (who also owns Limelight), Domínguez and a crew of helpers who were cleaning up the place took the venue's marble bar top "when I had told her not to do it." Domínguez claims that, among other fixtures she's bought for Saluté, she installed the bar top and that it belongs to her, since it is not structurally attached to the building (the bar top was attached to the floor with an adhesive). According to Domínguez and artist David Zamora Casas, Eddie Hernández (aka DJ Plata, and also guitarist for Sexto Sol) and several others in Domínguez's group, on Monday afternoon Lange entered Saluté and "rudely" asked everyone to leave the premises.
"He showed up calling us all kinds of shit and telling us we were trespassing," Zamora Casas said. "Then he said he was going to call the cops," which Lange did.
"He even used the f-word to me over the phone," said Domínguez, who at one point had a nervous breakdown and took a walk by herself around the neighborhood, with Zamora Casas and others following her closely behind. "[Lange] is so hurtful," Domínguez said. "He's a bully." As far as whether or not Domínguez had paid her rent, on May 11 Lange had told the Current he was "going to let [Azeneth] operate rent-free until [the end of June]," which was the original closing date of Saluté.
Officers Levine and Blanton from the SAPD showed up at around 6:45 p.m. (the time the Current got a desperate phone call from Domínguez), and then Officer Levine returned about 30 minutes later at Domínguez's request. Asked by the Current whether he could talk Lange into letting Domínguez retrieve the last of her things, officer Levine said it was improbable.
"There's no talking sense into that man," the officer said. "I already talked to him for five minutes and there's no way to talk to him."
On whether he was rude and used the f-word against Azeneth and her helpers, Lange said, "no comment."
Attorney Ricardo Briones, who has helped Domínguez in the past but is not her official lawyer and hasn't seen Domínguez's lease, was suprised by Lange's reaction, even when "fixtures attached in any manner to the building cannot be taken unless specified in the contract."
"But locking someone out like that is outside the bounds of the norm," Briones said. "These things are usually dealt with through attorneys, phone calls, and letters."
Told about Domínguez's desire to take the rest of her alcohol inventory from the venue, Lange said he didn't need the beverages but that it was "illegal" for Domínguez to take it unless directed by the TABC (Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission). After Lange started taking cases of beer out to Saluté's patio, Domínguez and her group decided it would be in their best interest to wait and contact the TABC on Tuesday before taking the beverages.
At 7:21 p.m. on Monday, workers with C & M Locksmith company arrived and proceeded to change the locks at Saluté. — Enrique Lopetegui
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