Life next to Astoria’s Club Purlieu is living hell, residents and business owners say

Photos by Angela Matua/QNS

Astoria residents who live in the vicinity of Club Purlieu, the night club where a livery cab driver was shot earlier this month, claim that they’re living in hell.

Club neighbors, along with Councilmen Jimmy Van Bramer and Costa Constantinides, gathered in front of the club on Monday morning to publicly call on the State Liquor Authority to revoke the club’s liquor license after it was temporarily shut down on Thursday.

A multi-agency investigation found multiple violations including open container, public urination, consumption after hours, disorderly premise, failure to replace fire exit lights and failure to maintain fire extinguisher and fire exit lights, Constantinides said. The club reopened on Friday.

Piero Di Matteo, owner of 36th Avenue Coffee Shop across the street from Club Purlieu, said patrons of the club shot a gun into his car last year, leaving a bullet hole in the window.

“I come at 6 [a.m.] to open and one of my customers come to tell me, ‘Piero, you have your windshield broken. It looks like a bullet,'” the store owner said.

When he went to investigate on June 9, 2015, he discovered that his windshield had been damaged. A police investigation uncovered video of two patrons walking out of the club and trying to shoot at an oncoming car on 36th Avenue. The bullet missed the intended target and hit Di Matteo’s car instead. He tried to reach out to the club owner to get reimbursed but Di Matteo had to pay for the damage himself.

“We don’t have peace here,” Di Matteo said. “Since the club open up, we living in hell. Every night [we hear] noises, people screaming.”

Van Bramer called the club “a clear and present danger” to the community and said his constituents are living in fear.

“Just as we saw last week, you don’t even have to be a patron of this club to be shot, you don’t have to be drinking in the club in order to have your life at risk,” he said.

Roberto Castillo, a cab driver, dropped off four men at Club Purlieu on March 4. After entering the club, the four men came back outside amid an ongoing dispute with other individuals. They fired several shots and one struck Castillo in the head.

The club was also the scene of a stabbing last year. Three patrons sustained stab wounds to their shoulders, abdomens and chests. They were also robbed.

Constantinides called the club a “drain” on the community and 114th Precinct resources.

“On the evenings that its open we have to have the 114th [Precinct] constantly have to keep tab on this place,” Constantinides said. “That is police resources that can be utilized in other places but instead they have to watch and keep an eye on this establishment. It is time for it to be permanently closed down.”

He also added that the club is known to authorities as a hangout spot for several gangs from around New York City.

Randolph Hoffman, a resident who lives above the 36th Avenue Coffee Shop, said that on the night of the shooting, there were close to 20 cars around the club with their headlights on blocking traffic, and as he looked outside of his fourth-floor window, he counted eight separate fights that broke out around the club.

“This is every night,” Hoffman said.

In addition to loud noises and violent behavior, Di Matteo said parking has become almost impossible near the club. The owners place traffic cones outside to reserve parking for club patrons, which makes it difficult for him to park near his business. The coffee shop owner said the establishment needs to be shut down immediately.

“Right now,” DeMateo said. “Not to shut down today or tomorrow. Right now.”

According to SLA records, the club violated section 106 of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law when they permitted the premises to become disorderly during the gun fight. The club also violated a code when they sold alcohol after 4 a.m. and when employees refused to permit an inspection by an SLA representative.

An SLA spokesperson said these charges are pending and a hearing will be scheduled at a later date.