Ecstasy Bust at Shark Club Teen Party Harks Back to Nightspot's Dark Days

The Shark Club's Gregg Hanour is a community leader when it comes to fighting the evils of being under the influence. The club owner is a member of Costa Mesa's Alcohol Impaired Driving Task Force. He's spoken at seminars organized by Orange County's Mothers Against Drunk Driving chapter. And he's taken his message on the road, appearing at a November 2009 sobriety event in Ventura County titled "Unacceptable Losses."

So after a promoter presented an alcohol-free event for teens at Hanour's club Friday night, he had to wonder why 26-year-old Israel Soriano also chose that night to darken the Shark's doorway.

Security noticed the Santa Ana man, a regular from adult nights, acting suspiciously around a young clubgoer and asked Soriano to go outside with them and empty his pockets. He had a large wad of cash and a bag of pills believed to be Ecstasy, according to police, who later booked Soriano on suspicion of possession of a controlled substance for sale and child endangerment.

Friday night was the Sweet Factory's "Summer Kickoff" and "Graduation Party for the Class of 2011" at the Shark Club. The promoter presents similar blowouts throughout Southern California with club DJs, celebrity guests and plenty of sweets aimed at those ages 14 to 18.

Despite Hanour having found religion when it comes to over-drinking and -drugging, an Ecstasy bust is not new for the Shark Club. Nor is it for the Shark Club's owners.

Two years after the upscale pool hall and nightspot Jillian's Billard Club opened in Boston in 1988, former Quiksilver executive John Hanour and his brothers Gregg, David and Todd opened the Shark Club on Baker Street near Bristol Avenue in Costa Mesa. It's known for its five full bars, patio fireplace and huge dance floor and shark tank.

In 1992, the Hanours expanded their empire to Irvine, opening Metropolis, a sprawling 18-and-over nightclub known for its industrial decor, internationally known guest DJs and nights dedicated to Latinos and gays.

Metropolis was announced to have folded in the spring of 1999 due to lease dispute with its landlord, the Irvine Co. But as the Weekly reported at the time, a drug raid by Irvine Police and state Alcohol and Beverage Control (ABC) may have had more to do with the closure.

Four people were arrested on charges of use and possession of Ecstasy, GHB (liquid Ecstasy) and methamphetamine after a pre-dawn raid of Metropolis on April 18, 1999. Among them: John Hanour, who was also popped for drug sales. Authorities said the raid followed the sale of GHB to an undercover officer earlier that night.

John Hanour denied in the Weekly piece that the drug bust had anything to do with Metropolis closing, explaining the Irvine Co. had a different vision for its University Town Center. A source told the Weekly the club's relationship with the mega-developer began to sour after David Hanour, John's younger brother and an inexperienced manager, took over running Metropolis.

The Shark Club filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in January. The filing reportedly lists the Hanour Corp. as having less than $10 million in assets. Under court oversight, Gregg Hanour continues to operate the club.


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