New York state cracked down on another 22 New York City businesses, including 12 in Queens, that broke Governor Andrew Cuomo’s executive orders on social distancing and banning indoor consumption of alcohol at bars and restaurants during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Friday, the governor announced the latest wave of liquor license suspensions against businesses caught ignoring the orders — putting their workers and customers at risk of potential exposure to COVID-19.
Cuomo also announced an enhanced effort by the joint State Police-State Liquor Authority task force targeting college-area bars, hoping to put the kibosh on large gatherings among students in the early days of the fall semester.
“While it is clear the increased enforcement by our task force has made an impact, we cannot let ourselves become complacent or allow those coming from other states to import indifference for these critical public health rules,” Cuomo said. “This action should serve as a reminder to the small number of establishments who openly flout the rules that they are putting all New Yorkers at risk, and they will be held accountable.”
Each business received an emergency summary suspension order for their liquor license, which remain in effect indefinitely. Following a hearing by the SLA, the license holders could face immediate revocation of their liquor permit and fines of up to $10,000 per violation.
To date, 201 businesses across New York state have had their liquor licenses suspended following inspections by the joint task force and its law enforcement partners.
One particular hotspot for the liquor license suspensions was in Flushing, Queens, where three karaoke bars had their permits pulled.
SoHo KTV and Bar, at 32-02 Linden Place, lost their liquor license on Sept. 1 after the New York City Sheriff’s Office responded on Aug. 30 to complaints about indoor operations at the location.
Upon arrival, Sheriff’s Office personnel found 40 to 50 patrons exiting the building, and another 23 patrons gathered on the roof. There was also evidence of food and alcohol consumption in the karaoke rooms.
Another Flushing karaoke bar, CJ Diamond Café, at 41-02 College Point Blvd., had their liquor license suspended on Sept. 2 a day after the NYC Sheriff’s Office found 30 patrons inside the establishment during a response to complaints about crowding. The officers also witnessed between 75 and 100 other patrons leaving the café through an emergency exit.
We Go KTV, at 36-10 Union St., lost their liquor license on Sept. 4 after inspectors visited the site following several 311 complaints about loud music emanating from the establishment. The inspectors encountered six patrons in the lobby, and then a crowd of more than 100 on the third floor.
The patrons then bolted for the emergency exit, and inspectors called the 109th Precinct in for backup. Police arrested two individuals for possession of ketamine and issued a pair of criminal court summonses for disorderly premise.
Some facilities apparently acted as if there was no pandemic at all.
According to the Governor’s office, Casa Rubio Restaurant, at 98-05 Northern Blvd. in Corona, Queens had their liquor license suspended on Sept. 9 after investigators spotted 27 patrons eating inside the establishment — with a live DJ set up playing music.
Another 39 diners outside — sitting at back-to-back tables without proper social distancing. For good measure, investigators also observed two employees without facial coverings, and another seven patrons unmasked waiting to enter the eatery.
In the Rockaways, the Belle Harbor Yacht Club, at 533 Beach 126th St., had their license suspended on Aug. 29, a day after inspectors visited the site and found 80 patrons — 25 of whom were completely unmasked — standing in the parking lot, drinking and congregating without social distancing.
Another notable offender apparently broke the governor’s orders on social distancing and mask-wearing a second time this summer, and wound up paying the price.
Taqueria Diana, at 524 9th Ave. in the Garment District of Manhattan, lost their liquor license on Sept. 4, two days after inspectors visited the site and found five patrons drinking inside and not practicing social distancing. Both the bartender and a kitchen employee were also not wearing masks at the time.
On July 28, investigators had visited Taqueria Diana and found two patrons inside the premises.
Other businesses in New York City that had their liquor licenses suspended include the following:
- Karvouna Mezze, 241 Bowery, Lower East Side, Manhattan — On Aug. 28, investigators found a guitar player and singer playing there without facial coverings, and 20 patrons drinking, dancing and violating social distancing.
- La Troncalena Lounge & Restaurant, 102-10 37th Ave., Corona, Queens — On Aug. 30, investigators observed six patrons inside, multiple employees without masks and up to 15 patrons outside without following social distancing protocols.
- Black Emperor Bar, 197 2nd Ave., East Village, Manhattan — On Aug. 31, investigators spotted three patrons sitting and drinking inside.
- Las Lagunas Deli Grocery, 281 St. Nicholas Ave., Ridgewood, Queens — On Sept. 2, cops found nine individuals drinking inside the business, which did not have permission to serve alcohol on-premises anyway. Police also found two illegal video gambling devices.
- Sabor Norteno, 102-06 43rd Ave., Corona, Queens — On Sept. 4, inspectors found more than 27 patrons drinking inside the premises.
- The Skinny Bar Lounge, 174 Orchard St., Lower East Side, Manhattan — On Sept. 4, inspectors found 20 unmasked patrons standing in front of the premises and drinking without eating food; another seven patrons were doing the same approximately 50 feet from the establishment, in violation of liquor regulations.
- Sushiva, 615 9th St., East Village, Manhattan — On Sept. 4, inspectors spotted six patrons drinking and eating inside the establishment.
- Zurang, 41-14 162nd St., Flushing, Queens — On Sept. 3, inspectors observed 12 patrons eating inside the restaurant, and another 12 diners located within six separate, permanently constructed rooms on the rear patio.
- Marco’s, 1071 Broadway, Bushwick, Brooklyn — On Sept. 4, inspectors found 37 patrons drinking without food in a rear yard where the maximum legal occupancy is 18. Additional customers were observed ordering drinks from a walkup bar.
- Kochi, 652 10th Ave., Hell’s Kitchen, Manhattan — On Sept. 7, inspectors spotted 20 patrons drinking and ignoring social distancing measures outside the establishment, most of whom lacked face coverings. Another 30 patrons were found drinking inside the premises.
- Klassique Bar and Lounge, 3813-17 Boston Road, Bronx — On Sept. 5, inspectors located 70 patrons outside the premises, half of whom were standing and drinking near outdoor tables. One patron was spotted inside the bar enjoying a drink.
- Sunny Grocery & Discount, 131-13 Jamaica Ave., Jamaica, Queens — On Sept. 10, inspectors and NYPD officers discovered that the grocery story was operating as an illegal bar, with five patrons drinking inside a backroom. There was even a makeshift urinal in the backyard for customers to relieve themselves. The licensee was arrested and charged with operating an unlicensed bottle club and selling untaxed cigarettes.
- 3 in 1 Deli Grocery, 131-11 Jamaica Ave., Jamaica, Queens — Also on Sept. 10, right next door to the Sunny Grocery, cops found the operators of this establishment serving seven patrons in an unauthorized indoor structure in the rear yard. Two patrons were also observed drinking in the establishment without food.
- Joyce’s Tavern, 3823-35 Richmond Ave., Eltingville, Staten Island. — On Sept. 11, inspectors found 10 patrons drinking inside the premises.
- Suenos Americano Bar Restaurant, 35-14/35-16 Junction Blvd., Corona, Queens — On Sept. 12, the NYPD responded to a noise complaint and found 75 individuals being escorted from an indoor basement bar area. A number of employees were also observed not wearing masks.
- Patrizia Pizza, 35 Broadway, Williamsburg, Brooklyn — On Sept. 12, inspectors found a group of at least 26 patrons at two tables outside the premises, and another six patrons eating and drinking inside.