The State Liquor Authority cited a history of violence at the Embassy Lounge in suspending the Long Island City club’s liquor license last month — but the club’s owner says they got it all wrong.
“I’m here to clear up any discrepancies,” said Mario Kokkonis, owner of the Embassy Lounge, in an interview with The Courier. “Sometimes facts are not put into play the right way, that’s what I feel is going on with my situation.”
Kokkonis has owned the Embassy Lounge, located at 33-02 Queens Blvd., for the past 10 years. On Nov. 6, the State Liquor Authority (SLA) suspended the club’s liquor license, citing recent violent altercations on or near the premises.
According to Kokkonis, the statements that were released by the SLA are not true. The Embassy Lounge is undergoing a hearing process to get the decision overturned.
“In the midst of a hearing, [the SLA] shouldn’t be leaking stuff that isn’t true.” said Kokkonis.
According to the SLA, the Embassy Lounge pleaded not guilty to the charges on Nov. 8. An initial hearing was held on Dec. 7 to address the charges.
An Oct. 26 incident led the SLA to take action against Embassy Lounge. According to the SLA, a female patron was stabbed by another patron, resulting in the loss of her eye. The licensee failed to call 911 to report the incident, and refused to later share video surveillance footage.
Kokkonis, who has video surveillance from that night, states that the victim didn’t lose her eye at all, and that his bouncers broke up the fight, which had taken place up the block from the club.
“You can write a report and confuse anybody. The police report started out by saying ‘Perp saw female inside establishment which resulted in a female patron being stabbed, losing eye directly outside.’ But later in the report it says that ‘the victim is in danger of losing her eye,’” said Kokkonis. “In another report from that same night, they said that the girl “had an argument with known acquaintance, perp stabbed her above eye and sliced her left cheek, and was able to get away.” That’s three different stories in two police reports.”
The victim in this incident has not returned a request for comment at the time of publication.
The SLA cited other incidents of violence at the Embassy Lounge — and for each of them, Kokkonis had an explanation.
The SLA said that on Oct. 2, an altercation took place at the Embassy Lounge resulting in a woman being hit with a bottle during a brawl on the premises. In that incident, which according to Kokkonis actually took place on Sept. 2, the woman had fallen and hit her shoulder on a club speaker.
On Oct. 7, the SLA stated that a patron had been in an altercation with five men in the bar that night. When the man left the bar, the SLA said, he was assaulted by the men and needed 62 staples. The SLA went on to say that the Embassy Lounge refused to hand over surveillance footage.
Kokkonis claimed that the actual assault happened far up the block from the club. His staff, according to Kokkonis, was unable to assist because they weren’t aware that it was happening.
Kokkonis also stated that despite the SLA’s claim, he had showed officers the footage from that night.
Following these two incidents, the NYPD and SLA returned to the Embassy Lounge on Oct. 12. According to Kokkonis, who was not at the club at the time, a promoter who was at the club stated that he was the manager and offered to host the inspection.
Kokkonis told The Courier that the promoter is not under his employment.
“He handed over his ID, and he had a felony charge 10 years ago,” said Kokkonis. “Once [the police] saw that, tickets started going crazy.”
Kokkonis said that the NYPD and SLA issued safety code violation 46 tickets to the Embassy Lounge that night, with many of the tickets duplicated.
The SLA went on to issue more charges against the club at a later date, including operating a disorderly premise, employing a felon, failure to maintain books and records, and improper conduct for refusing to provide medical aid to an injured patron.
A representative from the SLA noted that the Embassy Lounge has a extensive history of complaints and charges from the SLA. The charges, dating back to 2014, range from fire and safety code violations to selling alcohol to minors.
A common charge that the club faced was operating a disorderly premises, citing instances that resulted in fights at the bar that took a violent turn.
One incident in particular that drew a lot of attention was a shooting outside the club, which was operating under the name Club Allure at the time, in October 2014 that left four people injured.
Other incidents that the Club Allure faced in recent history include an alleged stabbing on Nov. 9, 2014 and an incident on Dec. 6, 2015 where three men were arrested after one threatened to kill a bouncer.
In December 2015, leadership from the Long Island City area called on the SLA to permanently revoke Club Allure’s liquor license. Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer condemned the club for the number of incidents, saying that “these numbers should be troubling to every single person, including the people who run, operate and own this club.”
Even today, local leadership are in favor of the SLA cracking down on bars like the Embassy Lounge.
“It’s great to see the SLA strictly enforce regulations against establishments like this one that don’t belong in our community.” said state Senator Michael Gianaris.
A representative from Community Board 2 stated that Kokkonis had expressed interest in meeting with their Chair of City Services, but were unable to provide further updates regarding the status of the Embassy Lounge.
In many of the previous charges, the Embassy Lounge pleaded “no contest,” resulting in over $15,000 in fines, and the rest of the charges were ultimately dismissed. However, the past charges will be considered when moving forward through the hearing process, according to the SLA.
Kokkonis admits that his bar isn’t perfect, and that there have been fights on his club’s premises before.
However, as the hearing process goes on, Kokkonis wants the public to know that he is committed to doing the best work he can do for his customers and the community.
“I just want the truth to be out.” said Kokkonis.