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Stabbing death: Why does Union City have after hours clubs?

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

A grieving family is burying one son and praying another will survive a fight outside a Union City after-hours club. Meanwhile, Mayor Brian Stack is running for re-election, claiming he has produced cleaner streets and better businesses. So how is it that “Studio 45 Nite Club” was doing business, in plain sight, right on Bergenline Avenue and just off 45th Street?


Mayor Brian Stack, Ivan Restrepo and Studio 45

ive the answer, Mayor Stack, to the family of Ivan Restrepo, who was stabbed dead on a sleazy street outside a sleazy business. Clean streets aren’t only about empty McDonald’s cups and soda cans. There’s plenty of other trash making life unsafe for residents, especially the further you move downtown.

I know of one resident who lives in fear of the drug dealers surrounding her house. Others simply throw up their hands and ask, “What are you gonna do about it?”

What ARE you going to do, Mayor?

A 19-year-old from West New York is accused in the killing, but police are looking for his cousin, who they say also was involved in the stabbing death of Restrepo, 23, of Seventh Street in Union City, at around 3 a.m. Monday outside the Bergenline Avenue club.

Juan Ventura Balbuena, 19, of 61st Street, is charged with murder. His 18-year-old cousin, Daniel, is in the wind, and there are questions whether he’ll ever be seen in or near his 67th Street apartment again.

Meanwhile, Alejandro Restrepo, 19, also of Seventh Street in Union City, remains in critical condition.

Homicide detectives can’t or wouldn’t say what ignited an argument outside the club that escalated into a Quentin Tarantino version of “West Side Story,“ in which both Balbuenas apparently pulled knives, according to Hudson County Prosecutor Edward DeFazio.

No one has said, either, why Union City played host to an after-hours joint — especially in an election year. Or how many more are operating under someone’s public protection.

Will Stack pay it any mind? Will he visit the grieving family? Will he attend the wake?

Better yet, will he order an immediate canvassing of the city by inspectors to determine whether similar clubs are operating on his watch? Will he shut them down?

Let’s do this: Send any information you have about any of these clubs to CLIFFVIEWPILOT.COM and we’ll investigate. We’ll check licenses and permits — along with the names of those who signed off on them — as well as tax records.

As sure as night follow day, machismo will cause trouble as a matter of course. But alcohol can fuel that fire intensely — and in the quick of the night, men too young to know better reach for what they think is their moment.

In the end, it’s not “West Side Story.“ It’s a tragedy for everyone involved. Tough guys are sent to prison before they’ve even learned how to be men, and innocents are left hurting — hard and long.

Meanwhile, “Mr. Union City,” as he claims to be called in Trenton, continues to smile for the cameras, carried to re-election by the small and large business people he‘s helped prosper in their endeavors, far from the grime — and the crime..

Anyone with information on the killing or on the whereabouts of Daniel Balbuena is asked to call the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office’s Homicide Squad at (201) 915-1345.

If you’re afraid or apprehensive, you can contact CLIFFVIEW PILOT, either at 201.943.2794 or at Identities are strictly protected, under the law and with the help of our legal team.

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