Sheepshead Bay, Bay Ridge, Williamsburg Businesses Lead in Liquor License Violations

Sheepshead Bay, Bay Ridge, Williamsburg Businesses Lead in Liquor License Violations
Governor Andrew Cuomo. Kevin P. Coughlin / Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)

Governor Cuomo has cracked down recently on the state’s bars and restaurants. All who are found to be non-compliant with the recently reinforced law that bars must serve alcohol only with food, as well as the Executive Orders directly related to the coronavirus pandemic, are subject to fines up to $10,000 and even an immediate suspension of their liquor license. For most, a suspension of a license is essentially a shut-down order.

The task force, led by State Police and the State Liquor Authority, has issued 38 total violations in Brooklyn as of yesterday, July 29th. Of those, five were given to repeat offenders.

Among those issued violations are Park Slope’s High Dive bar, Red Hook’s Brooklyn Ice House, and the Rocca Cafe and Lounge in Sheepshead Bay.

Emmons Avenue in Sheepshead Bay has been a particularly busy area for violations, with ten on that street alone. Bay Ridge is the next highest offender with seven, followed by Williamsburg with five.

In addition to the 38 violations, three Brooklyn businesses have had their licenses suspended. Suspensions occur, according to the Governor, only when offenses are especially “egregious”.

In a release from Governor Cuomo, task force agents stated that the license for Union Grounds, a bar on Smith Street, had been suspended after they observed “a crowd drinking directly outside the premises without food, including twelve patrons standing and drinking without food.” The report also stated that a bartender, waiter, and owner were seen without masks.

Regular Visitors, also on Smith Street, was suspended after investigators “observed approximately twenty patrons drinking alcohol directly outside the premises without food.” Atlantic Boat Club, the third suspension, was given in April after the restaurant failed to remain closed and continued to have patrons inside after orders to shut down were given. None of the three suspended restaurants immediately returned our request for comment.

Brooklyn’s offenses are a fraction of Manhattan’s, which has been issued 226 violations and three suspensions. Queens leads the state in license suspensions with 27.

In a statement, Governor Cuomo said that “noncompliance will lead us right back right where we were just a few months ago — so we must continue to crack down on the bad actors who violate the law and risk everyone’s health and safety.”

The New York State Hospitality Alliance reiterated on their website that 92% of businesses have been found to be in compliance, but that “everyone needs to work together to get that 100% compliance.”

In a pandemic that has ravaged the restaurant industry and forced massive layoffs, some owners have pushed back on the new strict regulations.

Governor Cuomo said yesterday that they are simply enforcing the laws.

“I understand [owners’] position that this closedown has been very tough on them, I understand it, I appreciate it, I respect it, I’m sympathetic with their plight. But, we also have to protect public health and we accomplish nothing if we have to roll back some rules and regulations on bars and restaurants. Most of the bars and restaurants have been great, really have been great. It’s always the same – it’s a handful of bad actors who ruin it for everyone and it’s the bad actors who wind up hurting the good ones,” Cuomo said.