SLA ISSUES EMERGENCY SUSPENSION FOR WESTCHESTER BAR
The New York State Liquor Authority (SLA) summarily suspended the liquor licenses of Joe Vin Enterprises LLC, doing business as “Uncle Henry’s” at 309-311 Halstead Avenue in Harrison. The bar was found operating in violation of the Governor’s Executive Order, requiring bars and restaurants to cease on-premises service of food and alcoholic beverages to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
Following complaints the bar continued normal daily operations despite restrictions to combat the coronavirus put into effect over three weeks ago, on April 10th officers with the Harrison Police Department conducted an inspection of the premises. Finding the lights dimmed in an attempt to conceal activity, officers entered the premises observing approximately fifteen persons consuming drinks at the bar or at tables, with several patrons immediately exiting when police arrived. Officers instructed the remaining customers to pay their bill and leave. A woman identifying herself as the manager initially claimed that she thought she was permitted to serve beer to patrons who were waiting inside for food, even though that is expressly not permitted and many of the patrons were observed leaving without any food.
“Claiming ignorance of the Governor’s Executive Orders at this date simply lacks any credibility, and bars continuing to operate business-as-usual during this crisis will be shut down immediately,” said SLA Chairman Vincent Bradley. “The SLA remains focused on keeping New Yorker’s safe by investigating all complaints and working with local law enforcement in every community to ensure licensees are following the rules.”
On April 14, 2020, the SLA charged Uncle Henry’s with two violations for failure to comply with Governor Cuomo’s Executive Orders concerning COVID-19 restaurant restrictions and for its failure to supervise the licensed premises.
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.