L&I inspects suspected ‘speakeasy,’ finds nothing illicit

Contrary to the social media hype, there were no strippers, no bartenders and no “waitress girls” when police and city code inspectors visited a certain Mayfair apparel store last Friday evening.

There was no booze, no “No Valentine NBA All Star Weekend” party and certainly no nightclub at 3504 Cottman Ave. Instead, authorities found the proprietor, a couple of his friends and displays of merchandise — mostly ballcaps, sneakers and custom T-shirts.

According to a spokeswoman for the city’s Department of Licenses and Inspection, the owner of the Above & Beyond store, Dion Deans, has maintained all along that he had nothing to do with recent Facebook postings and advertisements promoting a new after-hours nightclub at his place of business. The social media marketing campaign apparently began in late January and soon caught the attention of neighbors, Mayfair community leaders and elected officials from the area.

The offices of state Rep. John Taylor and City Councilman Bobby Henon were among those to lodge complaints to the city. Philadelphia police Capt. Anthony Luca, commander of the 15th district, also contacted L&I and asked the Liquor Control Enforcement unit of the Pennsylvania State Police to investigate.

On Feb. 13, L&I inspectors met with Deans, who assured them that he had no plans of operating his Cottman Avenue shop as a nightclub. Last Friday, city and state police and L&I inspectors returned to the shop. The Facebook posts had promoted a cash admittance party that was to begin at 7 that evening and continue until 7 the next morning. Authorities arrived there at about 8 p.m., met Deans, took a look around and left the site about a half-hour later.

“The owner of the sneaker store has consistently stated to L&I that he did not run those ads and that he never intended to open a nightclub,” Karen Guss, the city agency’s spokeswoman, said via email. “L&I will continue to keep tabs on the situation.”

As for the origin of the dubious Facebook postings, that remains a mystery. Records show that Deans owns the apparel store, but he declined to comment publicly about the case unless the Northeast Times excluded his name from this report.

An “Above & Beyond Club” Facebook page once featured several images of the outside and inside of Deans’ store, which is open to the public. At least one of the images that appeared on the Facebook page, a photo depicting dozens of people in a barroom, may have been taken at another location, judging by the dimensions of the room.

Sometime between Feb. 3 and Feb. 13, the photos of 3504 Cottman Ave. were removed from the Above & Beyond Club page. But the page still exists and it still contains an event listing for last Friday’s after-hours party. The page still lists 3504 Cottman as the club’s address and still lists its hours of operation as 7 p.m. Fridays to 7 a.m. Saturdays. A telephone number posted on the page is not in service. ••