Louis J. Terminello

 

Meet Louis Terminello: law firm partner, adjunct professor, hero to party lovers everywhere.

When the suits in Sweetwater’s building department shut down one of the most popular hotspots in the sleepy Miami-Dade suburb, pleas to reinstate the operating permit fell on deaf ears. 

A 95-second-long video from a clubgoer had gone viral, simultaneously scandalizing the community and garnering tens of thousands of views online. It showed three women vying in a dance contest to win tickets to a concert by Cuban musicians Yomil y El Dany. As the competition heated up, the determined dancers whipped off their dresses and bras, winning applause from the crowd but a wag of the finger from city officials.

A city staffer writing up a notice of violation for the club would later reference “the incident with the three girls.” The city noted the display amounted to “adult entertainment”—a use not permitted in La Covacha’s zoning district.

Things looked bleak for the club and its eager throngs, until Terminello and Greenspoon Marder stepped in and saved the day.

Terminello represents landlord MRA Family Properties Ltd. and tenant The International Party LLC, operator of La Covacha—“one of Miami’s wildest places for a Latin music descarga,” according to local newspaper the New Times. 

The club and restaurant has been in business nearly 30 years. But its future looked uncertain Aug. 9 when the city posted a “warning stop” notice on its front door that shut down operations, including the club’s weekend fetes. 

“They correctly asserted that for a minute and 32 seconds La Covacha operated as adult entertainment,” conceded Terminello, a Greenspoon Marder shareholder who co-chairs the firm’s Alcohol Beverage Industry Group. “They were just not getting my argument that this was like shooting a fly with an elephant gun.”

The impasse prompted Greenspoon Marder to file suit Aug. 22 in Miami-Dade Circuit Court with an emergency motion for temporary and permanent injunctive relief to set aside the suspension. The complaint alleged the city denied La Covacha due process and its right to operate as a lawful business. It argued La Covacha’s restaurant and nightclub business and its reputation would suffer irreparable damage with the continued revocation of its certificate of use. The business did not seek monetary damages.

City officials did not respond to requests for comment.

The court granted the motion for temporary injunction on Aug. 24, and Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Thomas Rebull set a hearing for the following week.

But Terminello had worked with city officials to settle the case with assurances that the club would control its environment to prevent a repeat performance. 

“Our mission was to stay friendly with the city,” Terminello said. “We admitted what we did and promised not to do it again. It wasn’t a hard promise to make, as it had never happened before.”

La Covacha ultimately remained closed 15 days, and reopened Aug. 25.

Contact Samantha Joseph at sjoseph@alm.com. On Twitter: @SJosephWriter