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NYC’s famous White Horse Tavern has its liquor license revoked after violating social distancing

New York’s White Horse Tavern has had its liquor license suspended after multiple violations of coronavirus lockdown orders.

The second oldest continuously operating restaurant in New York City, known for its famous guests – including Dylan Thomas, Jim Morrison and Bob Dylan – announced on Wednesday that it was ‘temporarily closed for business’ after The State Liquor Authority cited ‘over crowding on our sidewalk and street café’.

However the SLA noted multiple incidents aside from social distancing concerns at the establishment, which opened in 1880.

They said that on June 14, while NYC was still in Phase One of reopening, an undercover SLA investigator purchased alcohol without food at the ‘illegal outdoor bar’.

New York’s White Horse Tavern had its liquor license suspended on Wednesday. The State Liquor Authority charged them with 30 violations, including multiple counts of failure to comply with COVID-19 restaurant restrictions 

They also noted an 'illegal wooden patio platform' extended 'dangerously' onto the street during multiple visits to the premises in the West Village

They also noted an ‘illegal wooden patio platform’ extended ‘dangerously’ onto the street during multiple visits to the premises in the West Village

The SLA cited them for operating an unauthorized outdoor bar and failure to supervise the licensed premises

The SLA cited them for operating an unauthorized outdoor bar and failure to supervise the licensed premises

‘The investigator later warned the owner that for takeout service, the only service then allowed under the Executive Order 202.3, alcohol purchases must accompany food and licensees must ensure patrons are not congregating outside of their premises,’ the SLA states.

On June 20, members of the New York State Task Force visited the premises and saw 67 patrons consuming alcohol in front. The SLA charged the licensee with three violations of the Governor’s Executive Orders.

The New York City Police Department (NYPD) reported as many as 100 people were gathered outside the tavern with an ‘illegal bar set up and music blaring’ on several dates in June. 

The SLA states that each time, the owner or manager was warned about Executive Order violations and the NYPD met with the owner on June 26 regarding the noise and social distancing.

They claim ‘an illegal wooden patio platform’ extended ‘dangerously’ out onto the street.

On July 4 a similar scene was reported and this time people were not wearing face masks or practicing social distancing.

Additionally, the tavern was cited for violating NYC Department of Transportation rules requiring outdoor activities to cease at 11pm.

On June 14, an investigator warned the owner that for takeout service, the only service then allowed under the Executive Order 202.3, alcohol purchases must accompany food'. An image shows the takeout options displayed in the window on June 21

On June 14, an investigator warned the owner that for takeout service, the only service then allowed under the Executive Order 202.3, alcohol purchases must accompany food’. An image shows the takeout options displayed in the window on June 21

NYPD met with the owner on June 26 regarding the noise and social distancing. The restaurant posted on Instagram that day advertising its 'to die for' chicken sandwich. Customers are seen seated outdoors in the background

NYPD met with the owner on June 26 regarding the noise and social distancing. The restaurant posted on Instagram that day advertising its ‘to die for’ chicken sandwich. Customers are seen seated outdoors in the background

The restaurant warned customers to stay 6 feet apart in a post on June 28. NYPD met with the owner regarding numerous complaints of noise and social distancing violations

The restaurant warned customers to stay 6 feet apart in a post on June 28. NYPD met with the owner regarding numerous complaints of noise and social distancing violations

WHITE HORSE TAVERN VIOLATIONS 

June 6, 9, 13: NYPD received reports that as many as 100 patrons gathered outside the tavern with an illegal bar set up and music blaring. The owner was warned.

June 14: An undercover SLA investigator purchased alcohol without food at the illegal outdoor bar. The city was still in Phase One of reopening.

June 20: New York State Task Force visited the premises observing 67 patrons consuming alcohol in front. The SLA charged the licensee with three violations of the Governor’s Executive Orders.

June 26: NYPD met with the owner regarding numerous complaints of noise and social distancing violations. Officials also observed an illegal wooden patio platform that extended dangerously out onto the street.

June 27: NYPD officers responded to a 311 call and discovered 100 patrons drinking on the sidewalk and street directly in front of the bar. NYPD issues a summons for disorderly premises. 

July 4: NYPD responded to large crowds directly outside, without masks or practicing social distancing. Tavern was cited for violating NYC Department of Transportation rules requiring outdoor activities to cease at 11pm.   

‘Despite numerous warnings, this licensee continued to recklessly violate protocols that have helped to dramatically slow the spread of the coronavirus throughout New York,’ said SLA Chairman Vincent Bradley. ‘The SLA will not hesitate to take action against licensees who jeopardize lives and threaten the progress our state has made.’

On Tuesday, the SLA charged the White Horse Tavern with 30 violations, including multiple counts of failure to comply with Governor Cuomo’s Executive Orders concerning COVID-19 restaurant restrictions, operating an unauthorized outdoor bar and failure to supervise the licensed premises.

The emergency suspension was ordered by the SLA Chairman, Commissioner Lily Fan, and Commissioner Greeley Ford during a special meeting of the Full Board on Wednesday conducted via video conference call.

The suspension will remain in place until it’s either modified by the SLA or reviewed by a court.

In April and May the restaurant was closed due to coronavirus shutdowns. 

The White Horse Tavern added in its announcement on Instagram: ‘We are the first to admit we were overwhelmed with the demand and weren’t prepared with the staff to deal with the over crowding. 

‘We attempted to adapt and come up with solutions to keep our patrons and staff safe and still remain in business.’ 

Last year, loyal customers staged a protest after Steve Croman bought the building on Hudson Street in the West Village, straight after being released from Rikers Island jail where he was held for eight months on tax and mortgage fraud.

Last March restaurateur Eytan Sugarman – who owns Midtown’s Hunt & Fish Club and Southern Hospitality – signed a 15-year lease on the White Horse Tavern. 

‘Nobody is above the law, we aren’t asking for special treatment,’ the venue’s Instagram post continued. ‘But I hope people realize that this new way of doing business was thrust upon us. There is no perfect way to deal with hundreds of people showing up out of the blue.’

The statement added that it would be a ‘tragedy’ if the restaurant, where the likes of James Baldwin, and Jack Kerouac have sat, was ‘gasping its last breaths’.

‘And New York has suffered enough tragedy,’ the Instagram post added. 

Last year, loyal customers staged a protest after Steve Croman bought the building on Hudson Street in the West Village, straight after being released from Rikers Island jail where he was held for eight months on tax and mortgage fraud. Pictured, Welsh poet Dylan Thomas appears in his commemorative portrait at the bar

Last year, loyal customers staged a protest after Steve Croman bought the building on Hudson Street in the West Village, straight after being released from Rikers Island jail where he was held for eight months on tax and mortgage fraud. Pictured, Welsh poet Dylan Thomas appears in his commemorative portrait at the bar

Last March restaurateur Eytan Sugarman - who owns Midtown's Hunt & Fish Club and Southern Hospitality - signed a 15-year lease on the White Horse Tavern

Last March restaurateur Eytan Sugarman – who owns Midtown’s Hunt & Fish Club and Southern Hospitality – signed a 15-year lease on the White Horse Tavern

The White Horse Tavern admitted on Wednesday that they 'were overwhelmed with the demand and weren't prepared with the staff to deal with the over crowding'

The White Horse Tavern admitted on Wednesday that they ‘were overwhelmed with the demand and weren’t prepared with the staff to deal with the over crowding’

NYC ATTORNEY ADVISES VENUES TO FOLLOW SHUTTER RULES

‘At this point, the advice I am giving to restaurants is to strictly follow the order to close the dining rooms and to assess whether it is worthwhile to remain open for just delivery and take-out service,’ Alex Victor, partner at Davidoff Hutcher & Citron LLP told DailyMail.com in March.

‘Now that restaurants can also deliver wine and liquor with food orders, the economics may tilt slightly more towards staying open for these limited services; however, for many places, even with the added ability to sell alcohol “to go,” it is not worthwhile or the restaurant is one that is not suited for a take out operation.

Alex Victor, partner at Davidoff Hutcher & Citron LLP says 'for many places, even with the added ability to sell alcohol "to go," it is not worthwhile'

Alex Victor, partner at Davidoff Hutcher & Citron LLP says ‘for many places, even with the added ability to sell alcohol “to go,” it is not worthwhile’

WHAT ALCOHOL CAN BE SOLD FOR OFF-SITE CONSUMPTION? 

  • The guidelines allow any on-premises licensee to sell for off-premises consumption any alcoholic beverages that it would be able to sell for on-premises consumption. So, for example, a restaurant with a beer and wine license cannot start selling liquor to go. 
  • The guidelines also require that a licensee’s sale of liquor or wine must be accompanied by a food order and that alcoholic beverages must be in their original sealed containers or in closed containers. 
  • Perhaps more important, the licensee may only sell alcoholic beverages during those hours it would otherwise be permitted to sell alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption pursuant to the terms of its license.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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