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Wicker Park, Bucktown, West Town

Lyon’s Den Hookah Bar Faces Possible Shutdown After Fatal New Year’s Shooting, Alderman Says

Austin McAllister was shot and killed Sunday outside the Ukrainian Village business while working as a bouncer. Detectives are still investigating.

Austin McAllister was shot and killed Jan. 1 outside The Lyon's Den hookah lounge, 2123 W Division St., in Ukrainian Village
Quinn Myers/Block Club Chicago
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UKRAINIAN VILLAGE —A neighborhood hookah bar could be shut down after a man was killed nearby on New Year’s Day.

Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd) sent a letter Wednesday to police Supt. David Brown requesting a summary closure of The Lyon’s Den Hookah Lounge, 2123 W. Division St., writing that the business poses a “serious public safety threat to the community.”

Police can use a summary closure order to temporarily close a business if they determine it presents a public safety risk. Businesses can appeal the decision or face a closure of up to six months.

Father of six Austin McAllister, 38, was shot and killed Sunday outside the Lyon’s Den while working as a bouncer.

About 1:30 a.m. Sunday, a man tried to enter the hookah lounge with a gun, police said. There was an “exchange of gunfire,” and the man shot McAllister and another person before driving away, police said.

McAllister was taken to Stroger Hospital, where he died, police said. The second person was shot in his or her leg and taken to Stroger in good condition.

A police spokesperson had no updates on the shooting Thursday. The investigation is ongoing.

The Lyon’s Den opened on Division Street in 2020 after taking over a former car wash. The BYOB business regularly hosts DJ nights and parties and describes itself as “the perfect location for a night out” on its website.

In the letter to Brown, Hopkins said the New Year’s Eve shooting was just the latest example of a long pattern of “nefarious activity” at the hookah bar.

“The promotional staff of the establishment has created an environment where large groups of individuals are encouraged to come to the club for events without proper security protocols in place. Security staff has been reported not to have the necessary equipment or training to check for weapons, properly scan identification, or mitigate disturbances,” Hopkins wrote.

Lyon’s Den ownership has not responded to multiple requests for comment since the shooting.

Credit: Quinn Myers/Block Club Chicago
Plywood over the entrance to the Lyon’s Den Hookah Lounge, 2123 W. Division St. where Austin McAllister was shot and killed Jan. 1

A summary closure notice has not been issued for Lyon’s Den as of Thursday morning, a police spokesperson said.

If one is issued, Lyon’s Den’s owners can request a hearing in front of city officials to appeal the decision or enter into a nuisance abatement plan. Otherwise, the business could stay closed for up to six months.

Hopkins wrote the Jan. 1 shooting is the “most recent incident” at the Lyon’s Den that makes the business eligible for summary closure under criteria in Chicago’s municipal code.

“These incidents apply to being a ‘violent’ offense’ involving ‘patrons, or otherwise involving circumstances having a nexus to the operation of the establishment,'” Hopkins wrote. “Therefore, I respectfully ask that you immediately invoke the authority granted under Paragraph C of Section 4-4-285 and issue a summary closure order for the establishment.”

Credit: Quinn Myers/Block Club Chicago
A security guard parked outside the Ukrainian Village Mariano’s, 2021 W. Chicago Ave. Police have reported two shootings, one fatal, outside the grocery store in recent weeks.

The shooting occurred in the middle of a violent weekend across the Wicker Park and West Town area.

On Saturday, police issued a summary closure order for DSTRKT Bar & Grill, 1540 N. Milwaukee Ave, hours after three men were shot nearby in a Wicker Park alley.

Ald. Daniel La Spata (1st), whose ward includes the area, said a fight inside DSTRKT preceded the shooting.

And Sunday evening, someone fired shots near the Mariano’s grocery store at 2021 W. Chicago Ave. in Ukrainian Village, police said.

About 5:40 p.m., a man was loading items into his car when someone drove up and shot at him, police said. The man was unharmed, but his car was damaged, police said.

That gunfire came less than two weeks after Darian Neal was shot and killed on the grocery store’s parking deck Dec. 19. Neal’s killing is still under investigation, police said this week.

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