White Horse Tavern temporarily loses liquor license over social distancing violations

July 10, 2020

The state’s liquor authority this week suspended the liquor license of the White Horse Tavern, charging the 140-year-old West Village bar with more than 30 violations. The New York State Liquor Authority on Wednesday said the business repeatedly violated Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive order mandating bars and restaurants to comply with social distancing guidelines. It’s the first establishment in New York City to temporarily get its liquor license revoked since the start of the city’s open restaurants program last month, Eater New York first reported.

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

Under two executive orders signed by Cuomo last month, any New York restaurant or bar found to be in violation of the state’s reopening rules could lose their liquor license or be forced to close. The governor said that more than 25,000 complaints about businesses in violation of the reopening plan have been filed statewide since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, with a majority of grievances made about restaurants and bars in Manhattan and in the Hamptons.

According to the SLA, White Horse Tavern illegally opened for outdoor dining and drinking during the city’s phase one of reopening, when only take-out and delivery orders were permitted. The bar was also serving customers alcoholic beverages without the purchase of food, a violation of the state order from March. On June 20, state enforcement members found 67 patrons drinking on the premises and charged the bar with three violations.

The authority also received reports from the New York Police Department regarding more than 100 customers outside of the bar with “an illegal bar set up and music blaring” on June 6, 9, and 13. Officers also responded to 311 calls on June 27 and July 4 about large crowds on the sidewalk outside of White Horse Tavern not wearing masks and not social distancing.

In total, the SLA charged the bar 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,” according to the investigation.

The watering hole has temporarily closed in response to the liquor license suspension, according to a post on Instagram by owner Eytan Sugarman.

“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,” Sugarman wrote. “We attempted to adapt and come up with solutions to keep our patrons and staff safe and still remain in business. Nobody is above the law, we aren’t asking for special treatment.”

He added: “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. We did our best and continued to try and work towards what was asked of us. We love this neighborhood and hope that our beloved landmark Tavern will be open to serve you again one day, hopefully soon.”

[Via Eater NY]


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