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After protests from community leaders, the State Liquor Authority (SLA) denied a license on Jan. 9 for a Long Island City liquor store near a rehab facility for veterans.

The store’s owner, Xiao Wang, wanted to open a location at what used to be an storefront church at 8-23 Astoria Boulevard right next door to Reality House. Wang, who used to own the now-closed Baba Wine & Liquor, could not be reached for comment.

“While I was pleased with the SLA’s decision to deny the applicant’s request, I am still shocked someone displayed such toxic hubris to even attempt to open a liquor store here,” Councilman Costa Constantinides wrote in an email to QNS.

Since news broke about the possibility of a liquor store opening next door to Reality House in December, there has been pushback from community members and local elected officials. According to a representative from the SLA, Constantinides, Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan and state Senator Michael Gianaris wrote letters calling for the shut down of the potential new store.

On Jan. 9, as the SLA was making its decision as to whether or not to grant Vernon Wine & Liquors its license, the councilman held a press conference outside the store’s new location in opposition to the liquor permit. He was joined by Astoria community leaders Claudia Coger of the Astoria House and Bishop Mitchell Taylor of Urban Upbound.

 

After the SLA announced its decision the Councilman tweeted again.

 

“Our veterans deserve as much support as we can provide – especially those grappling with drug and alcohol problems – and this arrogant, ignorant attempt was a slap in their face,” Constantinides added in the email sent to QNS.

According to a representative from the SLA,  it wasn’t just community pushback that played a role in their decision to deny Vernon Wine & Liquor their license. Wang received a $20,000 fine in September of 2018 for failing to allow the SLA to inspect Baba Wine & Liquor store in July 2017 and for buying liquor from an unlicensed vendor.

Excerpt of notice from State of New York Division of Alcohol and Beverage Control.

Excerpt of notice from State of New York Division of Alcohol and Beverage Control.

Reality House was pleased by the outcome. Executive Director of Reality House, Hewitt Depass said he was touched that elected officials stood with them at the rally so they ” [we] do not have that liquor store as a detriment to what we are doing and trying to save lives.”

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