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Landlord: Allentown hookah lounge to be evicted in wake of deadly stabbing

Synergy Hookah Allentown
Jason Addy
A 29-year-old Bethlehem man was fatally stabbed early Sunday morning at Synergy Hookah Lounge on Allentown's East Side, police said.

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — An Allentown hookah lounge where a 29-year-old man was fatally stabbed over the weekend is facing eviction, according to the building’s owner.

Kevin Tarafa, of Bethlehem, was stabbed multiple times during a fight early Sunday morning inside Synergy Hookah Lounge, according to Allentown police.

  • Kevin Tarafa, 29, of Bethlehem, was fatally stabbed Sunday at Synergy Hookah Lounge on Allentown's East Side
  • Isiah Yeager, 23, of Allentown, was charged with criminal homicide
  • The landlord who owns the building that houses Synergy says he will try to evict the tenant as soon as possible

Tarafa was found unresponsive about a block away in the 1600 block of East Greenleaf Street, where he was pronounced dead at 4:45 a.m. Sunday by the Lehigh County Coroner’s Office, authorities said.

“Tomorrow, I’m going to the magistrate to speed [the eviction] up. This is the last straw. I want them out.”
Landlord Buzzy Labriola

Isiah Yeager, 23, of Allentown, was arrested and charged with one count of criminal homicide, police said. District Judge Michael D’Amore on Sunday denied bail for Yeager, who was ordered to Lehigh County Jail, court records show.

Yeager is scheduled to have a preliminary hearing June 26.

‘I want them out’

Synergy Hookah Lounge will move out of the building at 1522 Union Blvd. within a few weeks, landlord Buzzy Labriola told LehighValleyNews.com on Monday.

The lounge’s lease expired at the end of May, Labriola said, but he agreed to allow the business to stay for a few more months while seeking another location. Synergy’s stay on Union Boulevard was set to end July 2 under that agreement, but it could be forced out sooner.

“Tomorrow, I’m going to the magistrate to speed it up,” Labriola said Monday. “This is the last straw. I want them out.”

The Union Boulevard building includes two other commercial units and an apartment, where Labriola lives.

Synergy Hookah Allentown
Jason Addy
Synergy Hookah Lounge has several signs on its windows that tell patrons that weapons and firearms are not allowed on the property. A 29-year-old Bethlehem man was fatally stabbed Sunday, June 18, at the lounge, Allentown police said.

Labriola said he saw many police cars early Sunday morning, but he did not know any details about what happened.

The operators of Synergy Hookah Lounge could not be reached for comment Monday. A person who answered a call to the business did not provide comment to LehighValleyNews.com.

The establishment is open from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. Thursdays through Sundays, according to its website.

‘Trouble’ for the neighborhood

On Monday, Labriola pointed out a trail of blood that led several hundred feet from outside the lounge to the edge of a neighborhood at East Greenleaf Street.

A resident of that neighborhood, who asked not to be named, said the hookah lounge “is bad, always.” Speaking through a relative who translated, they said fights often spill into the neighborhood from the lounge.

“It’s not good for the neighborhood,” they said.

The resident said Allentown police should be more present with patrols around the neighborhood.

The owner of Kultura BL Collectibles, located in the same building as Synergy Hookah Lounge, said she hasn’t experienced any issues firsthand because the businesses aren’t open at the same times.

But she said she has to clean up outside her shop every morning after the lounge is open.

“They’re trouble,” she said.

‘What’s the cost of a life?’

In November, two residents voiced concerns about the lounge at an Allentown City Council meeting.

One resident called on the city to enforce its nuisance-abatement laws after his family’s vehicles were hit by gunfire for a second time. Another said the neighborhood is “getting dangerous” in large part to Synergy, which he called an “afterhours nightclub.”

Wayne Matthews told council members the city should support businesses and commerce, “but at some point, people have to look at, what’s the cost of a life, what’s the cost of degrading a neighborhood?”

An autopsy for Tarafa is set for Tuesday, the coroner's office said.

Anyone with information about Sunday's killing is asked to call the Allentown Police Department criminal investigations division at 610-437-7121 or the department's Complaint Desk at 610-437-7753.

Tips may also be submitted through the Tip411 app on the Allentown police website. Police say callers and tipsters may provide information anonymously.