Allen shuts down hookah bar that sold legal drug

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by STEVE STOLER

WFAA

Posted on June 10, 2010 at 5:54 PM

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ALLEN — A week after sending out a warning to parents, Allen police have closed down a restaurant selling K-2.

K-2 is a legal product that's often described as "incense." Police say more kids are smoking K-2 and getting a high similar to marijuana.

But officers say that's not why they shut down Jabary Mediterranean restaurant. They believe the owner was selling more tobacco than food. City officials received dozens of complaints about Jabary selling tobacco and K-2 to minors.

One angry citizen wrote: "School is out. Our young people are looking for jobs. They should not be able to go to a business to buy something to drug themselves."

Officers recently inspected Jabary's. They issued tickets to two under-aged customers who were using tobacco products, including Leif Ringstad's son.

"He used his ability to sell food under a restaurant code license as cover for being a tobacco shop," Ringstad said.

Police noticed there was another problem. So they asked city code enforcers to come out.

"Fifty-one percent of his gross sales need to be in food," police spokesman Jon Felty said. "They asked him if he could provide documentation showing that, and he could not."

Mike Jabary obtained a permit to operate as a restaurant, which means he has to sell mostly food. He admits that his establishment is designed as a hookah bar, where customers smoke flavored tobacco.

But Jabary said his problems with the city got worse when the complaints about K-2 started coming in.

"I don’t know what you call it, but I feel it's harassment," Jabary said.

Felty says Jabary wasn’t treated any differently than any other business owner who was violating city codes.

"I bent over backwards to try to help him, explaining to him exactly what the expectations were and what the law is and how he has to operate in order to stay within the law," Felty said.

If Jabary's establishment remains open, he could face fines up to $2,000 a day. He told us he's checking with other North Texas cities to find a new home.

Allen police say Jabary could re-open as a tobacco shop, but he'd have to move. His current location is not zoned for that use.

E-mail sstoler@wfaa.com

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