What Did You Do, Babalu?

Hoo-boy, we’re hungry. Let’s see, what’s in the fridge? Nothing. What’s in the wallet? Only $99.95. Well, I guess that’s enough for a TV dinner at Babalu.

Eh? Wallyhood tipster John pointed at this article in the Slog :

2900609537_a1f4e963d3_mOn November 18th, the WSLCB sent a letter to the owners of the Babalu Mambo Lounge—located at 1723 N 45th St—informing them that the state was pulling their liquor license for failing “to act as a bonafide restaurant.”

State liquor laws require all bars—which are technically licensed as restaurants—to prepare and serve full meals to customers for several hours a day.

According to documents provided by the city attorney’s office…Babalu’s menu at one point consisted of five “1950’s TV Dinners,” including The Babalu Chicken Pot Pie, Lucy Light Fish Fillets, the Desi Arnaz Hungry Man, the Fred Mertz Salisbury Steak and Ricky Ricardo Spaghetti & Meatballs, all priced at a whopping $99.95 each. State law requires bars and clubs to have a kitchen and a cook on staff, who actually prepares food on site.

[...]The city’s letter to the WSLCB also notes complaints from neighbors about the club’s noisy and sometimes violent crowds, and a 2007 citation by the city for failing to attain the proper zoning permits for the bar, which is smack in the middle of a relatively quiet residential neighborhood.

But as a Slog commenter Comte notes, though, there are “literally dozens of similar ‘cheats’ that” the WSLCB has turns a blind eye toward, “unless some other violation comes up that’s simply too egregious to ignore.” So what’s the “other violation” here? Something to do with the Rolls Royce parked out front every day? Could there be a clue in the second article, from July 2007, that John pointed us to?

3055958605_fd765d0dc2_m…last week, all 11 staff members at Wallingford’s Babalu: The Mambo Room walked off the job, several staffers report. The reason, they say, is because Shaun Williams—a friend of Babalu owner Michael Prineas—threatened a bartender.

After closing, on Friday, July 13, the bartender, a young woman who wanted to remain anonymous, asked Williams to lock the front door. According to former Babalu bartender Patrick Pacyga, who was on the scene, “Shaun… physically threatened her. It was scary actually. He’s a large guy. It was weird how fast he flared. He had to be physically restrained and three guys had to escort him out.” According to several other staff members, who asked not to be named, the 6-foot-4, 300-pound Williams told the young woman he was going to “bury [her].”

Williams says he “did not threaten to ‘bury’ her,” but admits that he was at fault for the incident. According to Williams, he told the woman, “‘What you need to do is shut the ef up, bitch.’ It was my fault, but I never threatened anyone in any way. I take 100 percent responsibility for what I did wrong.”

Babalu’s owner, Prineas, says his staff left because “it wasn’t a good fit for the people that were here.”

Former staffers seem to agree. They say they felt unsafe working around Williams, who they say hung around a lot. They also cited problems with Prineas’s management style.

Former bar manager Elizabeth Williams says she had to pay several bands out of her own pocket after Prineas failed to pay for performances.

Prineas counters Williams’s accusations. “I’m old school,” he says. “I do things according to the book. If people don’t show up on time to play, don’t expect to get the full amount of money.”

Yow. OK, Mr. Soprano, capiche! And yeah, that’s Prineas in the middle above.

  • espalier

    Babalu is the biggest nest of douchebaggery in Wallingford.

  • evan

    it’s so obnoxious even walking by that place. send that weinermobile off to pioneer square.

  • Anonymous

    Other egregious offenses you ask? Hmmm, how about the obnoxious flashing lights they have outside of the building flashing at the apartments above. Man, I would hate to live there. Williams and Prineas are scum.

  • kerrizor

    Man, what happened in the past couple years that Wallyhood started to have a night life? It used to be just Goldies, but then Muprhys, Kate’s, and Al’s blew up, Sea Monster and Babalu anchor 45th for the Big Thumpy Car scene.. I don’t mind the late night traffic (although Babalu is prime hunting ground for the HotChicksWithDouchebags.com blog..) but did something change in zoning laws or something to make us a more attractive option?

  • evan

    i was talking to the night manager at qfc and it seems like that block on 45th has really taken a turn for the worse. he informed me of pimping and drug dealing going on in the grocery store’s parking lots, and a seriously escalating problem with shoplifters. he even pointed out a woman who he assumed to be ‘working’ calling for a ride, on the business’ phone. yeah and seriously what happened to sea monster? i used to stop in there on weeknights to find cheap cocktails and usually a great jazz band, now i go in and the bartender seems drunk, and the music sucks.

  • eM

    I would love it if babalu closed down for good, or moved to belltown
    I totally agree that it’s douchebag central

  • anonymous

    That Rolls he drives has a handicap placard on it and I saw him park in the handicap spot at QFC the other day. He doesn’t look handicapped to me. The only disability I see is a really fake tan.

  • http://www.tenthandhess.com/ Flash

    I work until midnight on weekdays and every time i drive past those flashing lights I think their is a cop behind me. Also, those popped collar douche bags think nothing of walking right in front of your car when you have the green light. Also, if you picked 100 random photos and inserted the photo of the actual owner of the place, I have a feeling about 95% of people familiar with Babalu would be able to accurately pick the scum bag that owned the joint. GTFO of my Wallingford!

  • AG

    I lived two blocks away for years (46th/Burke), and the neighborhood would be seriously enhanced by replacing Babalu with say, a sewage-treatment plant. The douchebaggery is so comprehensive that it’s hard to single out an example, but I’d say the night my partner and I had to call 911 to retrieve a passed-out patron that the bartender got rid of by walking him outside and propping him against the curb in front of the business next door (at the time, High-Maintenance Bitch) is right up there. The drunk literally toppled over into the gutter with the leaf sludge; the bartender went back indoors.

    How that Rolls isn’t getting keyed, egged or vomited on daily is beyond me.

  • Al

    Folks, let’s get the facts straight, Mr. Prineas owns nothing, including the car. The building, bar and other things are owned by a trust set up by mommy. Not just the bands but he still owes Dr. Thirlby for the laparoscopy (handicap parking, ha).

  • Lisa

    Really.. [sigh].. I am constantly amazed by peoples false sense of importance. And please lets not forget Wallingford’s apparent feelings of entitlement. What appears above to welcome and/or encourage people to key the owners car.. talking about hooking and drug deals etc. I consider myself lucky then to have never encountered any of the above annoyances at this establishment. Those kinds of things is why I don’t even like to venture to the downtown area.

    I consider Babalu’s a place to enjoy good music and a mature crowd. My experience has not been one filled with overtly intoxicated people harassing or causing nuisance to anyone. Nor have I found the evening to wear on into the morning or spill out onto the streets like it does in the downtown scene. I really wonder what the hell you are talking about.. and where was I when it happened??

    Get out of talking about what people have and what they don’t, your opinion is only solicited by fellow narrow minded, “I think I’m better than them” Wallingford wannabe commies. Support your local businesses.. aren’t you getting the tax benefit anyway? And if you are really so concerned, solicit the local police department for more patrols, and the problems you think you have will shortly resolve themselves. Heaven forbid with some proof and tangible visibility to your perceived issues.

    We cant always have everything we want. I understand wanting to maintain a neighborhood feel and approachability. Count your blessings that you have Babalu’s instead of numerous other headaches. I.E. Twilight, Club Venom.. or even eastside spots.. Time Out, The Shark.. all those places are just a mess from midnight to 3am. And their cities pay a pretty penny just trying to rein everything in. Consider yourself lucky..

  • Kerstan

    Good Riddance! I worked at Babalu (aka the Wonderbar) for almost a year. The owner and “manager” is sleezy and doesn’t have any common sense whatsoever. Inventory control is spotty, they don’t pay employees on time – and when they finally pay up its cash under the table. After a fight broke out one “Salsa” night, I had to shove the guys outside (no employed security). I had a knife pulled on me and was called a liar and fired by the boss after he “walked outside and asked around” and no one admitted to it.

    They used have the staff of the Hawaiian Restaurant next door wonder in once a night with Menu’s…

    Its a complete joke and a surprise it took this long for the WSLB to finally get involved.

  • Curtis Pendelton

    Kerstan seems to have some legitimate reasons to dislike the place. Most everyone else just seems overly sensitive and self important. No offense but I have lived in this neighborhood for most of my life and I think you guys are hilarious. Get over yourselves.

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