Abbas Al Nahi talks to an Arlington police officer outside the former ReMyx’d Restaurant and Bar on Wednesday, July 26, 2023 in Arlington, Washington. (Jonathan Tall / The Herald)

Abbas Al Nahi talks to an Arlington police officer outside the former ReMyx’d Restaurant and Bar on Wednesday, July 26, 2023 in Arlington, Washington. (Jonathan Tall / The Herald)

Arlington sues property owner of burned-down gay-friendly bar

The lawsuit claims Abbas Al Nahi has not secured the former home of ReMyx’d after a fire gutted it in May, causing a nuisance.

ARLINGTON — City officials say the owner of the building housing the former ReMyx’d bar hasn’t kept his burned-down building secured, allowing squatters to frequently break into the place, according to a new lawsuit filed this week.

A fire in late May badly damaged the bar at 17216 Smokey Point Drive.

The gay-friendly Arlington restaurant and bar had made headlines due to death threats amid controversies over drag nights hosted there. But Arlington officers believe the fire started due to an electrical issue, not arson, records indicate.

The injunction, filed Tuesday in Snohomish County Superior Court, claimed the fire had rendered the building unsafe. The building was left “open and not fully secured” making it an “attractive nuisance” for squatters.

Abbas Al Nahi, the property owner, said he wasn’t aware he was being sued when a reporter called him Wednesday. He invited a reporter to the property to show the state of the place. He appeared incredulous over the city taking legal action.

“My frustration goes back to when I bought this building,” Al Nahi said. “Why is the city filing a lawsuit against me? They are saying in the lawsuit like I’m inviting the homeless people to come in? There’s not much I can do. Do they expect me to bring a weapon and protect the building?”

The two-story building sits right off the I-5 exit to Smokey Point Drive. On Wednesday, exterior damage and plywood on the the doors and windows hid most of the orange building’s color. Trash, to-go boxes and rusty cans were strewn about outside. Inside the former bar and grill, a smell of stale soot hung in the air. Old food, cans of mayonnaise and tomato sauce were discarded across the floor. Half-empty bottles of liquor still sat on the open bar.

Inside the former ReMyx’d Restaurant and Bar on Wednesday, July 26, 2023 in Arlington, Washington. (Jonathan Tall / The Herald)

Inside the former ReMyx’d Restaurant and Bar on Wednesday, July 26, 2023 in Arlington, Washington. (Jonathan Tall / The Herald)

Al Nahi said he originally bought the property to set up a preschool program, but the way the city has dealt with the “homeless issue” made it a liability to start a school there. So he leased it out to a restaurant.

Al Nahi said he spent $150,000 on renovations before renting the property out.

After the fire, ReMyx’d owner Brenton Holland told police when he bought the place, it had “no flooring, holes in the walls, copper removed from the pipes, and non-functioning electrical.”

Holland added the electrical work was supposed to be done by Al Nahi, per the lease agreement, but the work was never completed. He reported he ultimately spent $10,000 of his own money on the project.

There had been numerous electrical problems since Holland signed the lease, according to a police report. Al Nahi told police he had a “brand new” electrical panel installed in 2021 before he rented out the place. Holland said the landlord did install the electrical panel, but never finished the rest of the electrical work .

Inside the former ReMyx’d Restaurant and Bar on Wednesday, July 26, 2023 in Arlington, Washington. (Jonathan Tall / The Herald)

Inside the former ReMyx’d Restaurant and Bar on Wednesday, July 26, 2023 in Arlington, Washington. (Jonathan Tall / The Herald)

Footage of the restaurant’s “all-ages” Mother’s Day drag show made its way into alt-right media across the country. Holland said that after all the negativity and death threats, he told Al Nahi he was “done” with the establishment, police wrote.

“The death threats were pretty severe, over some stupid (expletive),” Holland said. “To this day I don’t understand how a drag queen is a ‘groomer’ and if someone could tell me what they’re grooming for, it would be news to me. It was definitely a painful year and a half of owning the bar.”

Two weeks after Mother’s Day, the building caught fire.

According to the complaint, after the fire, the city tried to bring Al Nahi into compliance with municipal code, to no avail. On June 21, the city sent the defendant an official letter demanding he take “immediate steps” to raze or rebuild the building to “make it safe.”

“The city wants to get the property into a condition that’s safe,” Arlington city attorney Steven Peiffle said in an interview. “People are going in and out of the building and it is structurally unsound, and the property owner doesn’t seem to be interested in doing anything about it.”

Peiffle said there are ways to secure the site to protect the public.

“Razing the building is what’s going to make it safer for everyone,” he said. “Our building official indicates the building is clearly unsafe, any efforts of securing the site have been minimal, and people continue to go in and out of the site. It’s creating a great deal of work for our police officers.”

Al Nahi didn’t respond to any communications sent by the city prior to the lawsuit, Peiffle said.

The city noted in court papers that the “abatement of nuisances” to preserve the safety of the citizens of Arlington is “within the police powers of the City and is authorized under Arlington Municipal Code.”

Inside the former ReMyx’d Restaurant and Bar on Wednesday, July 26, 2023 in Arlington, Washington. (Jonathan Tall / The Herald)

Inside the former ReMyx’d Restaurant and Bar on Wednesday, July 26, 2023 in Arlington, Washington. (Jonathan Tall / The Herald)

The city is asking a judge to order Al Nahi to deal with the nuisances. If the property owner doesn’t take steps to secure the building within 20 days of the court order, city representatives “may enter the property to abate the nuisance violations.”

Al Nahi also owns the ABC Learning Center, a day care with branches in Edmonds, Lynnwood, Marysville, Mill Creek, Mukilteo and Redmond. In September 2015, he was sued by the owner of the Marysville property. According to the lawsuit, Al Nahi and his ex-wife refused to comply with multiple provisions in the lease, including refusing to allow the landlord on the premises, not obtaining liability insurance and not making full rental payments.

Al Nahi didn’t respond to that lawsuit, so a Superior Court judge ordered a default judgement. The defendant later argued the delay was because he “did not understand” what was needed from him, but his motion was denied.

Jonathan Tall: 425-339-3486; jonathan.tall@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @EDHJonTall.

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