21 More Bars / Restaurants Lose Liquor Licenses Due to COVID-19 Health Violations
Three Suspensions for Operating in New York City Micro-Cluster Areas, Including a Wedding Reception with Nearly 100 Attendees in a “Red Zone”
238 Businesses’ Liquor Licenses Have Been Suspended During Public Health Emergency
1,362 Charges Have Been Filed and Processed To Date; Updated List of Suspensions and Charges Available Here
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the state has suspended liquor licenses for 21 additional bars and restaurants in New York State after finding egregious violations of pandemic-related Executive Orders, including three establishments illegally operating within focus zones designated by the state as part of its micro-cluster strategy. These new suspensions bring the total number of liquor licenses suspended during the coronavirus pandemic to 238. In total, 1,362 charges have been filed against bars and restaurants for violating coronavirus-related rules. Businesses found in violation of these regulations face fines up to $10,000 per violation, while egregious violations can result in the immediate suspension of a bar or restaurant’s liquor license.
“Rules are only as good as enforcement, and as we have ramped up checks on bars and restaurants, compliance has increased, creating a safer environment for everyone. A small number of business owners still don’t think the rules apply to them — even in focus zones where the state has tracked increased spread — and these suspensions should serve as a reminder that we will take action against those who callously put New Yorkers in harm’s way,” Governor Cuomo said. “As we continue to fight clusters across the state, bar and restaurant owners should know that the State’s task force will keep enforcing the law, and if they do not follow the rules they will lose their right to serve alcohol.”
State Liquor Authority Chair Vincent Bradley said, “The increase in compliance we’ve seen is encouraging but not surprising, given the fact the overwhelming majority of bar and restaurant owners are hardworking, conscientious operators that put the health of their employees, patrons and communities first. However, as the risks associated with noncompliance by just a few bad actors remains high, the task force will continue our work to ensure a handful of reckless business owners do not halt or reverse our state’s progress.”
In addition to taking action through the State’s Multi-Agency Task Force against establishments downstate where local enforcement has been lax, the State Liquor Authority has continued enforcement efforts statewide, with a specific focus on areas around colleges and counties with increases in COVID-19 cases.
The 21 establishments issued emergency orders of summary suspension from the State Liquor Authority Board are located in the New York City, Finger Lakes, Long Island, Mid-Hudson, Mohawk Valley and North Country regions. A county-by-county breakdown is below.
In New York City:
- Bronx – 1
- Brooklyn – 2
- Manhattan – 2
- Queens – 4
Outside of New York City:
- Albany – 1
- Jefferson – 1
- Nassau – 2
- Oneida – 1
- Orange – 1
- Oswego – 1
- Putnam – 1
- Seneca – 1
- Suffolk – 1
- Westchester – 2
The emergency suspensions were ordered by Chairman Bradley, Commissioner Lily Fan and Commissioner Greeley Ford at special meetings of the Full Board between September 30th and October 21st, conducted by a digitally recorded video under social distancing guidelines. Emergency Summary Suspensions are imposed when the SLA finds the continued operation of a licensed business threatens public health and safety. Suspension orders are served immediately and remain in effect indefinitely, with the maximum penalty including the permanent revocation of the license and fines of up to $10,000 per violation. Licensees subject to an emergency suspension are entitled to an expedited hearing before an SLA Administrative Law Judge.
The 21 bars and restaurants suspended are listed below, along with information on their violations and the date of their suspensions.
“Breeze’s Banquet & Event Center” at 215 Leland Avenue in Utica, on September 30, 2020
Based on reports from the Oneida County Department of Health and a complaint from a guest who attended a wedding, SLA investigators learned that the venue hosted a wedding on September 4th attended by approximately 160 guests. Tables were spaced less than six feet apart, with guests mingling, ordering drinks directly from the bar, and failing to observe social distancing. Approximately fifty guests were dancing, most without facial coverings, and a DJ made an announcement asking guests to refrain from posting pictures on social media for fear they would be cited by the Department of Health. The licensee had previously been warned on two separate occasions by the SLA to follow state guidelines, including the day before this event. The venue falsely advised the SLA that the premises had not been holding weddings and would not be holding one on September 4.
“Zebra Lounge NY II” at 136-11 38th Avenue in Queens, on September 30, 2020
On September 27th, the New York City Sheriff’s Office observed over 100 patrons inside the premises drinking, smoking and singing karaoke, in flagrant violation of the Governors’ Executive Orders in place since March 16, 2020, which restricted indoor dining in New York City before September 30th and prohibited activities like karaoke.
“Elite Palace” at 69-02 Garfield Avenue in Queens, on September 30, 2020
On September 25th, the New York City Sheriff’s Office responded to the location following complaints of social distancing violations to find a wedding in progress with nearly three-hundred patrons inside — six times the number of attendees currently allowed at events — along with a band playing and numerous patrons observed standing, mingling and drinking, most without facial coverings.
“El Nuevo Jomas Tavern” at 112 Westchester Avenue in Port Chester, on September 30, 2020
On September 26th, officers with the Port Chester Police Department responding to reports of underage drinking found the premises hosting a large party with approximately two-hundred guests, despite a maximum legal occupancy of only 90 — which should be reduced to just 45 under COVID-related regulations. Police noted few patrons were wearing facial coverings, reported confiscating eighteen hookahs, and found the fire alarm system appeared to have been disarmed.
“Leonard’s of Great Neck” at 555 Northern Boulevard in Great Neck, on September 30, 2020
Following numerous complaints of a large gathering and excessive noise, the Nassau County Fire Marshall met with the manager outside the location on September 25th at around 6:00 pm. The manager stated the licensee was hosting a wedding with between 100 to 120 guests — at least double the 50 person limit on non-essential gatherings. The Fire Marshal reported the licensee had been warned two weeks earlier about occupancy limits, and observed guests standing, drinking and ignoring social distancing, with one room set up inside the facility for eighty guests, and another for one-hundred-twenty.
“Tiki Bar North” at 401A Boody’s Hill Road in Waterloo, on October 2, 2020
On September 26th, following complaints of social distancing violations, an SLA investigator made an undisclosed visit to the premises, observing approximately sixty patrons gathered at the bar and outdoor areas. Investigators observed twelve patrons standing at the bar consuming alcohol, in addition to several patrons walking up to the bar to order drinks, most without facial coverings and all in violation of the Governor’s Executive Orders. The investigator purchased a drink without food from a bartender without a facial covering and observed the owner behind the bar without a facial covering. The outdoor area was packed with patrons crammed into picnic tables not properly distanced from each other, with people moving freely from table to table and ignoring social distancing, most without facial coverings.
“Pine Grove Inn” at 1 First Street in East Patchogue, on October 2, 2020
On September 26th, in response to multiple 911 calls regarding social distancing violations, reckless driving, and vehicles blocking driveways in the surrounding area, the Suffolk County Police Department responded to the premises and found between 200 and 300 patrons attending a promoted event at an unlicensed outdoor area of the premises. Patrons — most of whom were not wearing facial coverings — were ignoring social distancing and walking around the outdoor area with open containers. Officers report that the licensee and several members of the waitstaff failed to wear facial coverings and found evidence of another advertised event at the location.
“La Botella Bar & Restaurant” at 136 Lake Street in Newburgh on October 4, 2020
On October 2nd, following complaints of crowding and social distancing violations, SLA investigators made an undisclosed visit to the premises, finding a live DJ performing and approximately 100 patrons inside — including approximately fifteen patrons dancing and another dozen playing pool, all in violation of the Governor’s Executive Orders. Patrons were standing two rows deep at the bar, where an investigator was eventually able to order a drink without food from a bartender without a facial covering. Investigators noted that none of the six employees present were wearing facial coverings or even attempting to enforce social distancing, with patrons freely milling about the premises.
“The Mahopac Inn” at 927 South Lake Boulevard in Mahopac, on October 4, 2020
On October 2nd, following complaints and previous warnings about social distancing violations, SLA investigators were seated at the bar, with patrons two feet away on each side, and served by a bartender with a facial covering pulled below his nose. Investigators noted approximately thirty patrons were present, with four standing and drinking while listening to a band. Less than an hour later, the bar was packed with patrons, including ten to thirty who were standing at any one time, consuming alcohol and walking freely throughout the premises without facial coverings. Investigators observed a second bartender without a facial covering, and at no time witnessed staff even attempt to enforce social distancing. This business was warned by SLA investigators in early July regarding social distancing protocols and the requirement that all employees wear facial coverings.
“David’s Hideaway” at 68 Route 11 in Central Square, on October 4, 2020
On October 2nd, following complaints of social distancing violations, SLA investigators made an undisclosed visit to the premises, observing approximately twenty patrons inside and two bartenders without facial coverings. Within half an hour, a band began to perform and the crowd doubled in size, reaching the point where there were no seats available to accommodate patrons. Investigators observed numerous patrons standing and drinking throughout the premises, including approximately twenty patrons crowded around the bar, most without facial coverings. This business is a repeat offender and was fined $1,500 in late August for Executive Order violations, including lack of social distancing and employees without facial coverings.
“D’Ambiance” at 1177 Grand Avenue in Baldwin, on October 4, 2020
On October 1st an inspection by multiple Nassau County agencies found six patrons standing and drinking at the bar without facial coverings, with no evidence of food being served. The Town of Hempstead Code Enforcement and the Fire Marshal issued multiple summonses and revoked the establishment’s Public Assembly License for failure to comply with local Fire and Building Code regulations. In addition, the Nassau County Police report that, on September 27th, an altercation beginning inside the bar resulted in a female being shot outside the premises after security pushed those involved in the altercation outside — NCPD note no one from the bar reported the incident. Police responding to the scene later that night observed over thirty patrons inside the premises, which has a maximum occupancy of less than twenty-five under COVID-related regulations. Those observed that day were standing and drinking without facial coverings, with no evidence of food being served.
“Hitchin Post Tavern” at 404 Court Street in Watertown, on October 7, 2020
On September 27th, in response to complaints of a large gathering inside the premises, the Watertown Police arrived at the tavern, discovering over seventy patrons packed inside — double the maximum occupancy under COVID-related regulations. Additional patrons were gathered at an outside area directly behind the premises. Police reported a total lack of social distancing both inside and behind the premises, with patrons freely entering and exiting the establishment through the back door and numerous patrons standing shoulder-to-shoulder inside, most without facial coverings. The scene resembled conditions depicted in a disturbing video of these premises that had previously circulated on social media and had been reported in the local news.
“La Bohemia Restaurant” at 12 East 1st Street in Mount Vernon, on October 9, 2020
On October 1st, officers with the Mount Vernon Police Department conducted an inspection finding more than 100 patrons inside, over ninety of whom were crammed into a second-floor space that has a normal maximum occupancy of forty-nine, or just under twenty-five under COVID-related regulations. Officers report a nightclub-like atmosphere at the premises, which is licensed as a restaurant, with patrons not wearing facial coverings, standing shoulder-to-shoulder, and flagrantly ignoring social distancing. In addition, there was no evidence of food being served, the premises was using an unauthorized DJ, and numerous patrons were smoking hookah in apparent violation of the NYS Indoor Smoking Act.
“Fat Buddha” at 212 Avenue A in Manhattan, on October 14, 2020
On October 9th, investigators with the state’s multi-agency task force and officers with the NYPD observed over twenty patrons standing, congregating and drinking directly in front of the business without facial coverings well past the 11 p.m. NYC curfew for outside dining. Investigators noted the kitchen was closed and there was no evidence of food being served, in addition to numerous patrons entering and exiting the premises with open containers. NYPD officers dispersed the crowd and issued a summons for Executive Order violations.
“Rochelle’s” at 19 Stanton Street in Manhattan, on October 14, 2020
On October 9th, investigators with the state’s multi-agency task force observed seven patrons standing and mingling inside without facial coverings. A security guard at the door and the premises’ manager were also observed without facial coverings. The business was operating well past the midnight cut off for indoor service in New York City, with investigators finding no evidence of substantial food being served — in direct violation of guidelines created to prevent congregation and mingling that have led to COVID-19 spikes in other states.
“Wise Bar & Grill” at 35 Neptune Avenue in Brooklyn, on October 16, 2020
On October 9th, investigators with the state’s multi-agency task force conducted an inspection of the premises, which was operating in an “Orange Zone” area, where indoor dining was prohibited as part of Governor Cuomo’s science-based Cluster Action Initiative. After initially observing individuals without facial coverings outside the bar waiting for tables inside, investigators entered, documenting 24 patrons inside eating and drinking, in flagrant violation of the law. In addition, an employee working in the kitchen was observed without a facial covering.
“39 Fantastic Bar” at 3914 8th Avenue in Brooklyn, on October 16, 2020
On October 10th, NYPD officers found the bar operating for indoor service in an “Orange Zone,” where indoor dining was prohibited. In an effort to avoid detection, the establishment had covered their windows to create the appearance they were closed, while slipping patrons inside. Despite a security guard attempting to block entry, officers discovered approximately 100 patrons in the unlicensed basement area, which has a maximum occupancy of only 25. Officers discovered ten karaoke rooms filled with patrons singing, drinking and using controlled substances in plain view, with officers arresting seven individuals for possession of ketamine and issuing a summons to the manager for operating a disorderly premise.
“Celtic Hall” at 430 New Karner Road in Albany, on October 18, 2020
On October 11th, Colonie Police Department officers responded to noise complaints at the club and found over 200 patrons packed inside the premises. Individuals were standing, drinking, and mingling, with several patrons smoking marijuana and all ignoring social distancing protocols. Colonie Police had previously visited the establishment, reporting that they previously dispersed a crowd and temporarily closed the club on September 20th in response to a noise complaints. At that time, officers found more than 100 patrons standing, dancing and ignoring social distancing, with officers noting neither staff nor patrons wearing facial coverings.
“Tropical Fantasy Bar & Lounge” at 92-06 173rd Street in Queens, on October 18, 2020
On October 9th, NYPD officers observed the premises using a tent set up on the sidewalk in front of the premises, which was blocking the pedestrian right of way in violation of New York City’s Open Restaurants program. According to the police, numerous patrons were observed standing, drinking and congregating under the tent. Despite additional warnings, including a follow-up visit by the NYPD on October 15th and an inspection by SLA investigators on October 17th, the premises continued to utilize the illegal tent. The location is a repeat offender, with pending charges for multiple EO violations already issued by the SLA.
“Alfie’s Place” at 3037 East 177th Street in the Bronx, on October 21, 2020
On October 17th, NYPD officers on patrol entered the premises, observing a bartender without a facial covering and several patrons standing at the bar, ignoring social distancing and without facial coverings. In addition, two patrons were observed standing and playing illegal video gaming devices. Police report no food was being served, and that the kitchen area had been physically separated from the premises and rented to a neighboring business without authorization from the SLA. During a follow up investigation, the SLA determined the establishment’s liquor license had been illegally sold to a third party without approval, charging the licensee with “availing” the license by allowing persons who are not approved by the SLA to own or operate the premises.
“Da Mikelle Palace” at 102 39-55A Queens Boulevard in Queens, on October 21, 2020
On October 18th, New York City Sheriff’s Office deputies observed several individuals entering the business, which was operating in a “Red Zone” area identified by Governor Cuomo’s Cluster Action Initiative and was limited to take out and delivery only. Despite operating with the establishment’s front lights off to give the appearance the business was closed, deputies heard music playing inside and entered the premises, observing two rooms with about 25 patrons in each — eating, drinking, and dancing without facial coverings or adherence to social distancing protocols. Deputies then entered an annexed space inside the building called the “Troyka Restaurant” and discovered approximately 45 additional patrons eating, drinking, and dancing to a live band — with neither patrons, employees, nor band members wearing facial coverings. According to patrons, the gathering was a wedding reception, which would not have been allowed at this size under statewide COVID-19 regulations, which limit non-essential gatherings to 50 attendees. In “Red Zones,” non-essential gatherings are not allowed at all, regardless of size.