July 24, 2020
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Announces Multi-Agency Task Force Has Inspected Nearly 1,100 Bars and Restaurants for COVID-19 Violations, Leading to Dozens of Charges and Ten License Suspensions This Week

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Investigators from Newly-Announced Task Force Documented 84 Violations Over Three Days

 

Ten Businesses' Liquor Licenses Suspended This Week, Including Six New Suspensions Announced Today

 

List of Bars and Restaurants Facing SLA Charges or Summary Liquor License Suspensions Can be Found HERE 

 

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Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that the multi-agency task force to combat violations of coronavirus-related regulations at bars and restaurants conducted nearly 1,100 compliance checks between July 21 and July 23, documenting violations at 84 establishments. The task force is led by State Liquor Authority Chairman Vincent Bradley and State Police Lieutenant Colonel Dominick Chiumento. Businesses found in violation of COVID-19 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. This week, the SLA has summarily suspended the liquor licenses of ten establishments in New York City and on Long Island - including six in the Bronx, Manhattan, and Queens that were announced today.

"We are very proud of what New Yorkers did to flatten the curve of the virus, but we have to protect our progress because no one wants to do that again," Governor Cuomo said. "That's why we're watching the bar and restaurant violations and the congregations in front of these establishments, as we believe it's connected to the increased infection rate with young people. We've tasked the State Liquor Authority and the State Police to help local governments more aggressively enforce the law and they are doing just that, with dozens of violations found last night alone."  

Over the last three days, investigators from the newly-announced task force led by the State Police and SLA conducted 1,080 compliance checks across the state. During that time, the investigators documented 84 violations. Since the start of the pandemic emergency, the SLA has brought 443 charges against licensees statewide and imposed 33 Emergency Orders of Suspension, immediately closing establishments in order to protect public health and safety. A list of licensees charged, and businesses served with summary suspension orders, can be found HERE.    

The ten establishments facing emergency orders of summary suspension from the State Liquor Authority Board this week include:

 

"Aqua" at 2241 Washington Avenue in the Bronx, on July 24, 2020

On July 22nd, Chairman Bradley conducted a compliance check of Aqua in the Bronx and found 12 patrons consuming alcohol inside the premises -- which is currently not allowed in New York City. In addition, kitchen staff and servers were observed without facial coverings and patrons were illegally smoking hookah both inside and in front of the premises. 

 

"Cipriani Downtown" at 372-376 West Broadway in Manhattan, on July 23, 2020

Following numerous complaints, Chairman Bradley conducted a compliance check of "Cipriani Downtown" in Manhattan on July 21st. During the check, he observed 17 patrons drinking and standing around tables with no chairs in front of the business, most without facial coverings. The Chairman entered the premises and observed an employee behind the bar with no facial covering and four patrons purchasing alcoholic beverages at the bar, in direct violation of the Governor's EOs.

 

"Guaro's Tapas Bar Lounge" at 86-01 Northern Boulevard in Jackson Heights, on July 24, 2020

During the evening of July 18th, SLA investigators observed over 20 patrons congregating in front of Guaro's Tapas Bar Lounge in Jackson Heights, Queens without facial coverings or social distancing. Shortly before midnight -- well past New York City's 11 p.m. curfew for outside service -- SLA investigators returned to find over 25 patrons in a nightclub-like atmosphere, with music blaring and patrons not wearing facial coverings or practicing social distancing. The restaurant was also using an unapproved trade name. In addition, the NYPD reports this location was found in violation of the Governor's EOs on June 26th and June 30th.

 

"Set L.E.S" at 127 Ludlow Street in Manhattan, on July 24, 2020

On July 23rd, Chairman Bradley conducted a compliance check of "Set L.E.S" in Manhattan, finding eight patrons drinking directly in front of the restaurant and approximately 30 patrons congregating near the premises, all without facial coverings and not practicing social distancing. The establishment was operating an obvious outdoor, self-service bar from a window -- exactly the kind of service the Executive Orders and SLA restrictions do not allow.

 

"Kandela" at 150-03 Cross Bay Boulevard in Queens, on July 23, 2020  
On July 16th, SLA investigators responding to numerous complaints about "Kandela" in Queens conducted a compliance check, finding loud music and dancing directly in front of the business. On follow up inspections on July 17th and July 20th, SLA investigators observed a DJ playing music outside the premises, creating a nightclub-like atmosphere where patrons were clustered, in addition to a bouncer and waitstaff serving patrons without facial coverings. The conduct observed was consistent with complaints received from neighbors. The location was also observed in the past week serving well past New York City's 11 p.m. curfew for outside service. 

 

"La Pollera Colorada II" at 82-13 Northern Boulevard in Jackson Heights, on July 22, 2020

La Pollera Colorada II's non-compliance began on May 4th, when NYPD officers found patrons drinking inside the restaurant who refused to disperse. On June 17th, the SLA charged the licensee with violating the Governor's EO based on an NYPD referral that intoxicated patrons were consuming alcohol directly in front of the establishment. On June 26th, SLA investigators observed servers without facial coverings, in addition to patrons drinking and lingering in front of the business, and on July 18 -- after multiple charges and multiple warnings -- an SLA investigator observed continuing non-compliance at the location, with over 25 patrons congregating without facial coverings and without exercising social distancing.  

 

"Brik Bar" at 32-16 Steinway Street in Astoria, on July 20, 2020

Brik Bar is one of the worst offenders on Steinway Street in Astoria, Queens, where large crowds have assembled for drinking and partying. The bar had been warned and served with SLA violations for allowing crowds to congregate and drink outside on multiple occasions in June. They were observed again in flagrant violation of the Governor's EOs this past weekend on July 16th and again on July 18th, ultimately resulting in the NYC Sheriff 's Office serving the location with a cease and desist order on outdoor service, issued by the New York City of Department of Transportation.

 

"Maspeth Pizza House" at 55-60 60th Street in Maspeth on July 20, 2020

Another repeat offender, Maspeth Pizza had been cited and warned on multiple occasions for serving alcohol to standing patrons who were congregating outside its location. On July 10th and 19th, SLA Investigators observed this premises continuing its unlawful service, including after the 11 p.m. curfew, with numerous patrons standing, dancing and drinking alcoholic beverages in violation of social distancing rules. Investigators also witnessed servers with no facial coverings and patrons smoking hookah, in violation of the establishment's license.

 

"M.I.A Made in Astoria" at 27-35 21st Street in Astoria, on July 20, 2020

In another problematic section of Astoria, M.I.A was found to be serving alcohol to dozens of patrons who were standing, drinking, and congregating -- and not dining -- well past the 11 p.m. NYC curfew for outside dining.   M.I.A. had previously been cited and warned for earlier violations of the Governor's Executive Orders.

 

"Secrets Gentleman's Club" at 3A Saxwood Street in Deer Park, on July 20, 2020

On July 17th, investigators with the SLA and Suffolk County Police Department conducted an undercover inspection of Secrets Gentleman's Club in Deer Park. The detail observed employees and patrons inside the premises without facial coverings, including dancers performing while sharing the same stage pole and giving lap dances in violation of the Governor's EOs and SLA Guidelines.  When the owner was confronted by an SLA investigator about the problematic conduct, he claimed it must have started without his knowledge after he had left -- unaware that he had already been caught on videotape buying drinks for the undercover agents and bragging about getting away with violating the Executive Orders.

 

On July 23rd Governor Cuomo announced the creation of a multi-agency task force to crack down on violations of regulations meant to stop the spread of COVID-19 at restaurants and bars across the state. New York State Police and SLA Chairman Vincent Bradley will lead the effort, employing real time data to enhance enforcement efforts by rapidly deploying investigators to respond to dangerous social distancing violations as they happen. The Task Force will include investigators from the Department of Health, Department of Financial Services, Department of Motor Vehicles, Department of Taxation and Finance, the New York State Insurance Fund and the Department of Agriculture and Markets.

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