4th & beyond

Downtown venue back on the block after superior-court decision
  • Downtown venue back on the block after superior-court decision

Facing charges of unpaid rent, 4th&B owners Vince and Judy Puma learned last week that they had to give up their concert venue after three years of operation.

On November 26, a San Diego superior-court judge ruled that the Pumas had five days from 3 p.m. that afternoon to vacate 4th&B, pending service of the eviction notice. The court also ruled that the Pumas had to pay more than $125,000 to the landlord, Crown Investments, LLC.

Bob Speth, onetime owner of the popular ’80s and ’90s Bacchanal bar in Clairemont Mesa, remodeled the 25,000-square-foot former bank building at the corner of Fourth Avenue and B Street as a 1500-capacity concert venue in 1995. Speth sold 4th&B to North County equestrian Ali Nilforushan and 17 other investors in 2003. Nilforushan bought out the other investors and had assumed sole ownership by the time he sold 4th&B to the Pumas in 2009.

In November of last year, Nilforushan said he never got all the buyout money he was promised by the Pumas and said he was suing the Pumas to take back 4th&B. There is a separate lawsuit in process now in a Vista Superior Court, wherein Nilforushan is attempting to take back the business and the liquor license from the Pumas.

The eviction may make things more difficult for Nilforushan, should he prevail against the Pumas. Jennifer Hill, director of the local Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, says that civil lawsuit decisions do not compel her department to transfer alcohol-license ownership to successful plaintiffs.

Attorneys for the Pumas and Crown Investments both declined to comment for this story. Nilforushan and the Pumas also would not talk.

Court papers showed 4th&B’s monthly rent was $32,000.

With the court’s recent 4th&B verdict, will Public Enemy still take the stage at the downtown venue on December 12?

With the court’s recent 4th&B verdict, will Public Enemy still take the stage at the downtown venue on December 12?

What is unclear is what will happen to the upcoming shows planned for 4th&B, including a Public Enemy concert on December 12 and Barrington Levy on December 14. Unlike the nearby House of Blues, 4th&B does not have the benefit of a major in-house concert company to provide headliners. Live Nation owns House of Blues.

In other venue news, the building that housed Cane’s, the 900-capacity beachfront venue that brought such headliners as Linkin Park, Prince, and Snoop Dogg to Mission Beach from 1996 to 2009, will be reopened by a new owner. A Rancho Santa Fe group called Pacifica Enterprises put together the funding to bring back the Belmont Park restaurant, bar, and music hall. Pacifica took ownership of the attached WaveHouse surf venue as well.

Both enterprises will be run by eat.drink.sleep, the Pacific Beach company that oversees Moondoggies, the Dog, and Tower 23 Hotel. A spokeswoman for eat.drink.sleep said it was too soon to say if the Cane’s property would be hosting live music again. It has not yet reopened.

Cane’s founder/owner Eric Leitstein had to relinquish Cane’s when Belmont Park master-lease holder (and Cane’s landlord) Tom Lochtefeld would not renew Leitstein’s lease. Lochtefeld renamed it as SoundWave and tried to run it himself. That lasted until May of 2011, when SoundWave closed for good, opening only occasionally. Lochtefeld filed for bankruptcy, lost his Belmont Park master lease, as well as the WaveHouse operation, which he founded and owned. The City of San Diego owns the Belmont Park property.

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