Amanda Raus, Chris Podosek
New Haven police are investigating how a party at a downtown restaurant got out of control.
New Haven police are investigating after an unruly crowd of teenagers flooded the streets of the Downtown Entertainment District during a non-alcoholic Sweet Sixteen party last night, causing nearby businesses to lock their doors.
Police said the "juice bar" event drew a crowd of 500 teens to the Kudeta restaurant at 27 Temple Street.
Authorities responded to the scene around 9 p.m. on Oct. 13 to find an “overwhelming crowd problem” outside Kudeta, police said.
Neighboring restaurants and businesses told police they feared for the safety of their customers and were locking their doors to keep out members of the crowd, according to police.
More than two dozen officers worked to disperse the crowd and send the partiers home. No assaults or injuries were reported and no arrests were made, police said.
It's not clear exactly how the party became so unruly.
Police said the event at Kudeta was supposed to be a private Sweet Sixteen party, but had been advertised by the promoter as a “Birthday Extravaganza” party open to the public. According to police, the event flier said Kudeta would charge $10 to $15 admission and would have a DJ present to host the event.
The restaurant, on the other hand, told police the event had been booked as a private party with free admission for between 200 and 250 guests. A contract between the restaurant and the promoter said the restaurant would provide only soda and that the promoter would provide a birthday cake, police said.
May Lim, the manager of Kudeta, said she expected about 150 to 200 guests and had planned accordingly with the mother of the birthday boy, who said it would be a private party.
Police said Kudeta had failed to properly notify them of the "juice bar" event.
"Sgt. Means found out about this planned party for Sunday night," said New Haven police spokesman Officer David Hartman. "She went down there and spoke to the management at Kudeta."
But Lim said she had already requested the help of off-duty officers and never heard back. Lim also said she spoke with a New Haven police and asked if she should go ahead with the party.
"I say, if you can double check and make sure this party is fine," Lim said. "If you have any problem, we can cancel it."
A city ordinance requires venues to notify police 48 hours in advance of a "juice bar" event. The ordinance also prohibits the presence of alcohol during "juice bar" parties, but police said the restaurant bar was fully stocked.
The restaurant manager told police the birthday party was not open to the public, but police said the facility had hired seven bouncers for the event.
“Kudeta restaurant was ill prepared for the large number of patrons, despite the hiring of security staff,” police said, in a release, adding that the total number of patrons had exceeded the restaurant’s capacity.
City officials said the restaurant’s lease prohibits it from holding club-like events involving music, entertainment and dancing, according to police.
After the partiers had gone home, police inspected two other downtown venues that were holding events. They said that both the Mynt Nightclub and the G.O.A.T. were also holding “juice bar” parties, and that neither venue had properly notified police.
According to a New Haven city ordinance, "Failure of the cafe permit to adhere to all sections under this Section shall result in punishment by a fine of two hundred fifty dollars ($250.00), or the maximum amount authorized by state statutes or this Code... In addition, the city reserves the right to commence all appropriate legal action, including, but not limited to, collecting all debts owed to the city."
Police are investigating to find out whether any laws were broken and how to prepare such events from escalating in the future.
"A problem we all had was that the restaurant and the promoter were ill prepared for what happened in the aftermath," Hartman said.