he New York State Liquor Authority (SLA) summarily suspended the liquor licenses of St. Bees LLC., at 4466 Baychester Avenue in the Bronx. The bar was found operating in violation of the Governor’s Executive Order, requiring restaurants to cease on-premises service of food and alcoholic beverages to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
Following a 911 complaint, on April 9th New York City Police Department (NYPD) officers conducting an inspection observed a person inside the premises with the lights off. Officers entering the premises heard voices and music behind a locked door, announced their presence and began knocking on the door. After receiving no response, an officer gaining access through another entrance observed several men with drinks and an individual, later identified as one of the bar’s owners, waiving patrons out through a back door into an adjacent garage to avoid detection. Officers followed, finding five individuals hiding under a tarp hanging from the ceiling of the garage. The five patrons were issued C-summonses for Disorderly Conducted and directed to disperse. The licensee was arrested and charged with obstructing governmental administration for violating the Governor’s executive order.
On April 14, 2020, the SLA charged St. Bees with several violations, including failure to comply with Governor Cuomo’s Executive Orders concerning COVID-19 restaurant restrictions and for its failure to supervise the licensed premises.
“This bar is carelessly endangering lives at a time when our state, and the vast majority of restaurant owners, are doing everything within our means to slow the spread of the coronavirus,” said SLA Chairman Vincent Bradley. “This pandemic is deadly serious, and the SLA will use every tool at our disposal to protect public health during this crisis.”
The emergency suspension was ordered by Chairman Vincent Bradley, Commissioner Lily Fan, and Commissioner Greeley Ford at a meeting of the Full Board, conducted by videotaped conference call under social distancing guidelines, on April 15, 2020.
The State Administrative Procedure Act authorizes a State agency to summarily suspend a license when the agency finds that public health, safety, or welfare requires emergency action. When the SLA summarily suspends a license, it also serves a Notice of Pleading alleging one or more disciplinary violations. In invoking a summary suspension, the SLA has deemed the violation to be sufficiently serious upon initial review to warrant an immediate suspension. The SLA’s decision to summarily suspend a license is not a final determination on the merits of the case. The licensee is entitled to an expedited administrative law hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. An order of summary suspension remains in effect until such time as it is modified by the SLA or a reviewing Court.