Zen is screwed.

Zen was the scene of a shooting that injured two last month when a patron opened fire inside the nightclub from a balcony to the dance floor. This is shocking because Zen’s shootings usually happen outside the establishment.

That is the stupidest thing I have ever had to write.

Anyway, the DA shut Zen down for this weekend at the very least while they work to figure out some things about Zen’s liquor license:

And if they did misrepresent their type of business or their type of clientele and it’s not really fraternal organizations or persons who would be the subject of the catering business, then we’ll contest their license,” he added.

Zen is operating as a fraternal organization/catering business?! Excuse me while I LOL all over this place.

Mr. Zappala said he believes Zen is not a true catering club.


This license is called a CC license and here are the requirements:

“C” and “CC” licensed establishments must operate for the good of the club membership and in a fraternal sense. The sale of alcoholic beverages must be secondary to the actual reason for the club’s existence.

The club must possess an original charter and must hold regular meetings open to its members, conduct legitimate business through elected officers, admit members by written application, investigation and ballot, charge and collect dues and maintain required records. A club is not an organization used to accommodate a private bar operation. Additionally, no individual is allowed to own a club.

“CC” licensees may allow groups in the establishment for weddings or private affairs with prior arrangement.

I imagine Zen’s original charter reads like so:


P.S. They’ve shut down their website and have it directing to Havana for now, but here’s the snapshot of “Zen Social Club’s” site:

And click here to see the website of a true CC-worthy fraternity, Pittsburgh Elks Lodge, but don’t click if you’re easily seizured, because THINGS ARE DANCING.



  1. Steverino
    November 4, 2011 10:04 am

    When one of these places closes, another seems to pop again somewhere. They’re like gnats. And they alway seem to be run by the same small group of promoters.

    Like they say on “Cops,” “Nothing good ever happens after midnight.”

  2. Magnus Patris
    November 4, 2011 10:51 am

    For some reason, I feel the need to shout, “USA, USA, USA!”

  3. bucdaddy
    November 4, 2011 11:09 am

    What? No football players involved in the shooting?

    Guess they were all at midnight mass.

  4. jmarinara
    November 4, 2011 11:28 am

    Exhibit A on why liquor licenses are dumber than dumb.

  5. jennie
    November 4, 2011 12:06 pm

    I was curious and looked Zen up on Yelp. Wow, the reviews are very LOL worthy!

  6. spoon
    November 4, 2011 1:37 pm

    awww look its Chauncy’s for the new generation.

    Great, now where will all the douchebags go pop their collars up at?

  7. unsatisfied
    November 4, 2011 2:01 pm

    it sounds like a club that tom haverford would have been behind…..entertainment 720!

    in reality — the d-bag who is really operating this club transferred his license from his former club in the strip….that also had shootings. and, he has a history of previous trouble.

    where was forest city’s due diligence on this?

    ahhh, chauncey’s…..the land of big hair and big piles of cocaine.

  8. Joe
    November 4, 2011 6:26 pm

    I am part owner of another bar… and have been following this closely.

    Mike Norman, the owner of Zen, pays up to 10 off duty Pittsburgh Cops to work detail and show presence at Zen on a given weekend night. All those cops know the occupancy limits, but still allow the overcrowding. I am 99% sure he had 10 detail cops on the night of the shooting, plus 15 HUGE bouncers as well. The cops working detail have been in a bit of trouble as well. There has been civil cases against them for incidents that occured outside of Zen in the not too distant past.

    It used to be that we could pay a Pittsburgh cop the standard fee to have them work a detail. Not anymore. Now we need to pay the city, and then they pay the cop after they take their cut. Seriously. I won’t debate how screwed up that makes things.

    I’m not sure why he was granted the license he got for that location. I do wonder why it wasn’t investigated until now? Zen paid a lot of money to the drink tax fund. Paid a lot of property tax. Paid a lot of rent to the owner for that location. Kept a lot of people working. Paid the city for the police work. Put a lot of money into the property for remodel and renovations for that building owner… so maybe they turned their heads until now. It is interesting.

  9. Jim Bob
    November 4, 2011 8:42 pm

    Most people don’t know it, but Mike Norman also owns Mixx Lounge, which is right next to Zen and he owes $65,000 back rent on that place alone. I wonder if he owes any for Zen? Time will tell.

  10. JillM
    November 5, 2011 9:06 am

    @Steverino – love the Cops reference. Made me remember a sweet little old “grandma from the hood” I met once who told me “Honey, nothing is open after midnight except bars and legs”

    I wonder if the Zen starts each evening with the traditional catering menu of pasta, roast beef au jus, green beans and chicken just prior to the drank-fest and gun toting?

  11. BarSmart.com
    November 5, 2011 1:00 pm

    The DA has about as much say over who can have a license as Bruce Kraus – which is 0. None. He can’t do anything about it other than call the say 1-800 number anyone else can call and say, “Gee Golly, they sure look like they need their license yanked.”

    Zen isn’t the first place to use a CC license like that, nor are they the only, or the last. It’s how every after-hours club works, and I have personally contacted the LCB about this, and talked to LCE officers and they have assured me that as long as the letter of the law is followed, they will not get involved. Ask long-time nightlife poisoner Tom Jayson, who plans to open the same type of after-hours club on Carson this year.

    What needs to happen is that the family of the Crip drug dealer who was shot there most recently, needs to find out who was responsible for the private event (can’t be a board member) and also sue them. After that nobody will want to partner with Mike Norman – which is a good thing if you ask me.

    Either way Zen is gone now, their lease is over at the end of the month. Mixx won’t last much longer if the Station Square knuckleheads have a clue, and the only thing we will have to worry about is when Mike Norman is going to show up again to endanger the lives of more Pittsburghers.