CAMDEN, NEW JERSEY
ALL NATIONS LOUNGE
1400 Sheridan Street
Southeast corner of Sheridan and Pershing Streets
1400 Sheridan Street became a bar in the days after Prohibition was repealed. Frank Sliwinski was the licensee as early as 1939 through at least 1947, during which time it was known as Bussie's Cafe. The bar was sold to two partners in the late 1940s, and was known as Martin and Owens' Bar through at least 1959. The "Owens" was Joseph J. Owsianka, who had grown up around the corner on Norris Street.
The bar was acquired by Tony Martin and Albert "Rabbit" Glemser by 1966, and was known as Tony and Rab's Bar. It continued under this name through 1977. From 1977 through 1985, the bar was listed in the New Jersey Bell Telephone directories as the T&A Cafe. Another management change was reflected in the 1990 directory, when the listing was under Morris' Lounge. Another change in ownership occurred in the early 1990s, when the bar was purchased by a member of Camden's Jamaican community, and was renamed the All Nations Lounge.
The All Nations was open intermittently throughout the 1990s. The bar attracted an increasingly young and rowdy crowd, and owner Michael Clark finally stopped selling liquor in 1999, preferring to concentrate on their restaurant and take-out food trade.
1400 Sheridan Street came to national attention briefly when it was revealed that the sniper murderers, John Muhammed and Lee Malvo, were linked to the building, Muhammed having claimed to have lived there when registering a car.
Camden Courier-Post - Friday, October 25, 2002
Sheridan St. address had troubles as a lounge
By EILEEN SMITH
Although no sign marks the spot, Michael A. Clarke did business out of the storefront on Sheridan Street for more than a decade.
The Vashtie Corp. that Clarke formed in 1989 to buy the two-story structure is a variation on the Persian word vashti, meaning beautiful. But ugly incidents surrounded the rowdy All Nations Lounge he opened with his wife, Janice, there in 1991.
Following a rash of shootings, Clarke voluntarily inactivated his liquor license last year, state police said.
"He didn't sell it, but he decided he just didn't want to use it anymore," said Sgt. Kevin Rehmann of the New Jersey Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control.
In its place, Clarke opened a take-out place known as The Caribbean, where the Jamaican native cooks oxtails and curried chicken. There aren't any tables, but the Clarkes are in good stead with the Camden County Division of Environmental Health, said spokeswoman Barbara Waterson.
Fatima Grant, a regular customer, said people gravitate toward the spot because the food is great.
The Caribbean operates only at night and doesn't keep regular hours. On Thursday, the restaurant was closed after police disclosed that a suspect in a string of sniper slayings used the address to register a license for a car.
Clarke remained at his home on Mechanic Street several blocks away, intent on avoiding the press.
He and his wife bought the storefront, its outfittings and the space on the second floor for $50,000 in December 1989, making a down payment of $10,000 and payments of $607 per month.
The deed filed with the assessor's office in the City of Camden doesn't state if the deal included a liquor license, but state records indicate the Clarkes possessed a license to operate a bar by the end of 1989.
Camden Courier-Post - Friday, October 25, 2002
Building Ties Suspect To Camden
By ANGELA RUCKER
FBI agents descended on the Whitman Park neighborhood here Wednesday night, cordoning off a small area at Sheridan and Pershing streets and entering a nondescript corner building.
But by Thursday morning, the only evidence that anything unusual had happened was the curious onlookers, wondering if the Washington area sniper had been in their midst, and news reporters pursuing the latest developments in a crime spree that has stunned the nation.
Some were shocked by their city's link to the sniper investigation, and others were dismissive.
``People just want to get on camera," resident Mike Jones, 24, said about the crowd near the building the FBI had visited. "They want to stir things up.''
The building at 1400 Sheridan houses a restaurant, but it is also the address used by a suspect to register his car, the same car he was sleeping in Thursday morning when he and a teenager were arrested in Maryland.
John Allen Muhammad, 41, and John Lee Malvo, 17, are being held in Maryland, where they are considered suspects in the sniper attacks.
Their connection, if any, to the building remained unclear Thursday night.
Although some onlookers said they had seen Muhammad in the area before, others dismissed their claims.
``I have lived here my whole entire life, and I'm telling you no one ever lived in that apartment,'' said Jones. ``The only person I ever saw go up there was (owner) Mike (Clarke). If they took all of you reporters up there right now, I bet all you would see are boxes. It's like a warehouse.''
Camden Mayor Gwendolyn Faison, during a brief visit to the area Thursday morning, berated Police Chief Robert Allenbach for not keeping her informed. She did not find out about the FBI's foray into Camden until Thursday morning.
She said she was concerned that linking the sniper to Camden would further tarnish the image of one the nation's poorest cities.
"I'm not going to let one incident ... pull us down," she said. "This could happen any place."
City Councilman Ali Sloan-El, who lives in the 1300 block of Sheridan Street, said when he saw Muhammad's picture on television shortly after FBI agents arrived, he thought he recognized him.
"When I realized it was here, I was shocked," said Sloan- El, who cannot be sure if he ever met Muhammad.
The corner building has a history of trouble. Currently operating as The Caribbean, a takeout restaurant, it was previously the home of the All Nations Lounge, long a blight on the city.
Drug busts and raids were common in the neighborhood. The intersection was a notorious drug corner, police records show. In 1998, city police regularly raided the area, where cocaine and marijuana were sold.
The location had seen regular shootings and stabbings, and at least one homicide.
The bar itself attracted trouble, according to a Courier- Post report in 1999. Once a blue-collar draw, it gradually became the scene of drunken brawls.
It was known for featuring Jamaican music and crabs. Neighbors remembered it as being a constant weekend nuisance. Fights, loud music, even shootings were a regular part of life from Thursday to Sunday, neighbors said.
"We had about four or five homicides in a year's span," Sloan-El said. "It terrorized the community. Bullets were flying."
Fed up, the neighborhood rallied to have the establishment closed, Sloan-El said.
It reopened a year later under the same management as The Caribbean, putting out what was consistently described as delicious food, with a good selection of fish dishes and Jamaican fare. The Caribbean also stopped selling alcohol.
"This used to be a bad area," said Leah Prater, who has lived in the neighborhood all her life.
Since All Nations closed, the atmosphere has improved, Prater said.
"Since they stopped serving alcohol, it seems to have quieted down a lot," she said.
Some who came to the neighborhood Thursday were hoping for a bite to eat at The Caribbean, which remained closed.
``I was just telling my daughter that if she got good grades, I would take her over there for snow crab legs,'' said Morenike Maddra from the stoop of her house less than 100 yards away.
``I was just there yesterday - we all had curry goat.''
Urey stands outside the former All Nations Lounge in Camden, N.J., on
Thursday. The car in which Muhammad and Malvo were found is registered to
the address of the apartment above the former lounge.
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