Looks like there will be fewer lines — er, of many sorts — downtown this weekend.
Yassine Enterprises owner Hussein Ali "Mike" Yassine has been taken to the house for quite the laundry list of lapses in legality along with nine other cohorts — many of whom are relatives.
Drug trafficking (specifically that of cocaine), tax evasion, money laundering, and transferring firearms for said drug trafficking are just some of the federal crimes that resulted in a Thursday morning raid by not only the FBI but the IRS, DEA, TABC and APD.
Yassine Enterprises runs what would seem like the majority of liquor-drenched hangouts on "Dirty 6th," as it's disaffectionately known by many Austinites. Listed as venues on the Yassine Enterprises website are Hyde, Kiss and Fly, Roial, Pure, Malaia, Spill, Fuel, Treasure Island and Stack Burger Bar. This weekend, bar-hoppers and pick-up artists alike will be greeted by locked doors and TABC signage stating that bars' licenses are temporarily suspended.
Attention was first brought to Yassine Enterprises in the fall of 2011 when a group of over 50 disgruntled workers filed a class action lawsuit over minimum wage violations. Bartender Jack Webb claims that Mike Yassine refused to pay wages to employees who received tips. From a press release sent on Jan. 18 regarding the suit:
The former employee, who brought the suit, Webb, explained that he pursued the suit to right what he saw as a clearly improper and illegal business practice and to prevent further blatant violations of federal law. He also wants to obtain some measure of justice for himself and the others victimized by what he saw as an abusive business practice. “I just want myself and the other victims to obtain what the law says we are entitled to, and hopefully prevent further exploitation of wage earners in the future,” he said.
Serious concern continues to be expressed for the innocent employees that will undoubtedly lose their jobs in the crossfire of the company's federal charges.
"It comes as a surprise to me. [Mike Yassine] is one of the strongest players down here," Bob Woody, an owner of 22 downtown businesses, told KXAN. "My biggest concern right now is the staff that works for him. He employs a lot of people. And you know the typical bar might have anywhere from 15 to 20 employees, so we may be talking about a couple hundred people and their employment."
With so many bars in question, what's next for downtown's nightlife scene? It would appear that one of the largest glass houses in Austin has just been shattered, and the shards have landed everywhere.