What is it about the Uptown bar business that makes bar people turn into Jell-O shot toughs, the kind who use fax blasts and stink bombs instead of baseball bats and Tommy guns? A little more than a week ago, a blizzard of faxes and e-mails swamped assorted Dallas inboxes announcing the imminent demise of Tribeca Uptown Bar & Lounge (McKinney and Routh) and a free open bar to clear the sauce. "Drink it or we have to throw it out!," blasted the flier. Turns out the flier was a prank designed to ruin Tribeca, or so says owner Frankie Carabetta, founder of Maple Avenue Tavern and the upcoming Madison Avenue Bar & Lounge/East Coast Tavern at McKinney and Boll. "It was the most egregious act that I've ever seen," says the eight-year Dallas bar veteran.
Who would? Carabetta accuses Patrick Tetrick and Chris Faulkner, founders of the 6-month-old Lotus Lounge up the street. "Let Frankie know to be expecting the fire marshal nightly at Tribeca and for his grand opening at the new [nightclubs] across the street," stormed Faulkner in an e-mail to Carabetta's assistant Mari Georg.
From where comes this beef? The city fire marshal shut down Lotus Lounge on January 19, citing the nightclub for overcrowding. Faulkner and Tetrick say they were visited more than half a dozen times by fire marshals, Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission agents and city building inspectors over a two-week period. "We were open for six months, and we didn't think they could find Lotus on the map," Tetrick says. "Now it's their headquarters." When Faulkner and Tetrick asked what gives, one name came back: Carabetta, who allegedly lodged the anti-Lotus complaints. (Carabetta says all he did was suggest fire marshals inspect bars up the street.)
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Faulkner produced an e-mail sent by Georg six hours after fire marshals shut Lotus down. "HAHAHA," it reads. A few days later, someone detonated a stink bomb in Lotus and broke off all of the faucet handles in Lotus' men's room after turning on the water. Faulkner says Carabetta is using the complaints to snuff out Lotus, which he says is tracking to earn more than $2 million in its first year. He adds: Carabetta sent out the free booze/going out of business fliers as a marketing gimmick. The fax smear did boost Tribeca's sales, Carabetta admits. "Welcome to high school," says Faulkner.