Chameleons nightclub closes for good


PITTSFIELD -- Following a 21-day liquor license suspension, the owner/manager of Chameleons has permanently closed the troubled nightclub.

"I have no intention to reopen," said Melissa Drumm-Sweener. "I want to focus on family ... and not take part in Pittsfield's drama any further."

Meanwhile, the Chameleons' sign at 1350 East St. indicates the building is for sale or lease by property owner Pamela Rice, who rented the space to Drumm-Sweener nearly four years ago.

She announced the closing Monday before the Pittsfield Licensing Board, one month after the panel issued the three-week suspension following a shooting outside the establishment April 5.

During a show cause hearing April 28, the board cited poor management at Chameleons leading up to the gunfire that injured a 20-year-old and 21-year-old. Police said the injuries weren't life-threatening.

The shooting occurred around 2 a.m. following a planned underage, nonalcoholic event for 18- to 20-year-olds. The Pittsfield Police Department reported, based on the club surveillance video, that the department's Gang Unit had identified several local gang members in Chameleons on April 5. In addition, the venue's metal detector and ID scanner were both out of order.

At last month's hearing, Drumm-Sweener said the security equipment had been repaired and vowed to end underage activities at the club. On Monday, the businesswoman announced that her foray into the Pittsfield nightlife was over.

"It's a tough business, and I think I'll leave it to the rest of the city," she said. "I want to enjoy my weekends."

Two years ago, the Licensing Board urged Drumm-Sweener and her staff to be more vigilant in preventing trouble following an altercation inside the bar. On Feb. 18, 2012, city police responded to a call of an unruly and "heavily intoxicated" female patron who instigated a fight with another woman in the nightclub. The board felt Chameleons could have done more to prevent the trouble.

Drumm-Sweener and her husband originally opened Chameleons in March 2011, four years after Bobby Hudpucker's Bar & Grill relocated from the East Street site to North Street. Bobby Hudpucker's eventually closed.

The couple reportedly spent $60,000 to renovate the 4,300-square-foot restaurant space consisting of three rooms -- one solely for dancing and the other two each with its own bar, tables and seating.

Prior to opening, the Drumm-Sweeners, who owned three other businesses in the Pittsfield area, said they wanted a place that would cater to young adults and occasionally hosted teen parties with the liquor locked away during the underage events.

City officials warned such parties with alcohol nearby will be troublesome.

"If you have 200 teens there, it'll be bad news," Pittsfield police Lt. Michael Grady said before the Licensing Board when it approved Chameleons liquor license in December 2010.

To reach Dick Lindsay:,
or (413) 496-6233.


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