File photos
The frontage of Club Evo in White Center, which shut down in 2010 after repeated safety complaints. Inset: Daniel Yarbrough (left) and Alfredo Lopez presented their plans to reopen Club Evo as El Reventon in downtown White Center to the North Highline Unincorporated Council in 2011. Yarbrough is currently dealing with chronic nuisance tags and pressure from the City of Seattle due to safety concerns at his Seattle establishments.

Club Evo’s once-touted savior having safety problems at Seattle clubs

Club Evo has an infamous history in White Center, and the man who was supposed to bring it back as a Latin bar and restaurant in 2011 (with the promise of increased security) is now in hot water with the City of Seattle for public safety problems at three of his Seattle nightclubs.

Evo (Evolución in full) , for those unfamiliar, was shut down in 2010 after an injunction was places on the 16th Ave. S.W. business for improper licenses. Before that time, the all ages club brought in rowdy crowds that often spilled their disputes into the streets while, reportedly, security did nothing but watch. Citizens and law enforcement said the club was a drain on resources and a black eye for a business community working to revitalize.

In 2011, Evo owner Alfredo Lopez met with the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council (one of his biggest critics) to announce his plans to reopen the club as El Reventon, and introduced his partner who was supposed to ensure Evo’s resurrection was safer this time around: Daniel Yarbrough.

Yarbrough is the owner of Citrus nightclub in South Union, manager at Fusion in the University District, and one-time owner of an El Reventon that opened in Georgetown – all three of which have been fraught with problems, according to Seattle Police.

Yarbrough stood before an unforgiving crowd at that NHUAC meeting in July of 2011 and said, “Safety is our number one concern … we will be paying out of our pockets for three off-duty cops plus squad cars on Saturday night.”

He painted the picture of a well-trained professional security team that could even help control out-of-control crowds at other White Center bars. His plan, he said, would help clean up the community.

“The community really coalesced for the first time since I’ve been a business owner around getting that establishment removed from the community,” Mac McElroy, owner of Mac’s Triangle Pub in White Center said, speaking on Lopez’s original run with Club Evo. “It had such a deleterious effect on the perception of the downtown business corridor primarily because of all the law enforcement required to be there to police his clientele.”

Yarbrough and Lopez’s vision never came to fruition as Club Evo never reopened in White Center, due in part to a one-year moratorium on new dance clubs in North Highline pushed through by King County Councilmember Joe McDermott in 2011. In September of that year, the Department of Development and Environmental Services denied Lopez’s business license application for the White Center location. Instead, Yarbrough and Lopez opened El Reventon in Georgetown in 2012 (which did not go well, but more on that later).

A “chronic nuisance”
On March 1, Seattle Police and the City Attorney’s Office declared Yarbrough’s South Lake Union club “Citrus” a chronic nuisance property, allowing the city to wage fines up to $25,000 and possibly revoke a business license unless the owner addresses safety issues.

In Citrus’s case the problems were widespread – from gang-related shootings to 30-plus people melees and bathroom peeping incidents to car prowls, robberies and rampant DUIs. SPD said they had to respond to public safety calls at Citrus 55 times from January 2012 to January 2013. The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, just across the street, sent a letter to the city stating the problems had spilled over into their campus, posing a threat to patients and employees.

Six days later, the city learned of Yarbrough’s plan to take over ownership and obtain a liquor license for Fusion in the University District, another troubled club with a similar set of problems where he is a manager.

“Naturally, Seattle police and the City Attorney’s office thinks this is a bad idea,” Jonah Spangenthal-Lee with SPD wrote at the time. Seattle sent two letters (here and here) to the Washington State Liquor Control Board objecting to Yarbrough’s application for Fusion’s liquor license.

El Reventon in Georgetown
If things had played out differently the El Reventon Nightclub, a joint venture between Lopez and Yarbrough, could have opened in White Center as a Club Evo 2.0 of sorts. Instead, it opened in Georgetown in 2012.

The two had difficulty obtaining a liquor license for the Georgetown venture based on the track record of Club Evo in White Center, but it was finally awarded, according to SPD. In a letter to the WSLCB lobbying for the license, Yarbrough wrote, “It is my goal to provide a safe, controllable restaurant and lounge for the community … I would like to assure you … that if granted this liquor license, Reventon would exceed all expectations.”

Expectations may have been exceeded, but not in the way Yarbrough likely intended. Nine police reports were generated from Feb. 26 to April 12, 2012, mostly pertaining to fights, gunfire and underage drinking.

On June 1, 2012, Seattle Police Chief John Diaz sent a letter to the property owner stating El Reventon had been declared a chronic nuisance property. Yarbrough had sold his share of the business to Lopez for $1 only weeks before Diaz’s letter was sent out.

Reached by telephone, Yabrough declined to comment on the future status of his clubs and SPD’s chronic nuisance tags.

“Yarbrough’s history with Reventon, Citrus and Fusion demonstrates that he tolerates an unsafe nightlife environment,” SPD Asst. Chief Micheal Sanford summarized in his letter to the liquor control board. “For these reasons the City of Seattle believes that Yarbrough is unfit to possess, hold, control or manage a liquor license.”

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