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Staten Island bar loses liquor license over defiance of COVID-19 regulations

Sheriffs guard the entrance to Mac's Public House on Staten Island, New York, on December 2, 2020. The restaurant was closed and its general manager arrested because of defying COVID-19 regulations. (Photo by Gabriele Holtermann)

A Staten Island bar that has openly rebelled and protested against COVID-19 business regulations had its liquor license suspended along with 35 other establishments across New York state, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday.

Mac’s Public House, on Lincoln Avenue in Great Kills, had its booze permit pulled by the State Liquor Authority for violating the “orange zone” business regulations in an area that has seen COVID-19 cases spike in recent weeks.

The pub’s management denied entry to an SLA investigator who visited the establishment on Nov. 25. Even so, according to the Governor’s office, the inspector observed five people dining inside the location; indoor dining is prohibited within an orange zone.

For weeks, the pub’s management has publicly protested the restrictions, going as far as to falsely declare itself an “autonomous zone.” It has become something of a cause celebré for opponents of regulations designed to curb the spread of COVID-19.

The pub’s general manager, Danny Presti, wound up being arrested on Dec. 5 after he allegedly assaulted a NYC Sheriff’s deputy with his vehicle at the location.

“Unfortunately, some establishments have continued to ignore the rules, putting their customers, as well as their community as a whole, at risk,” Cuomo said on Dec. 8. “If we let our guard down and ignore basic public health rules, this winter could be one of the darkest periods of this pandemic and we simply cannot let that happen. We know the vaccine is on the way, we know there is a light at the end of the tunnel, but if we let up now and become undisciplined, it’s going to take us even longer to get there.”

Twenty-two other New York City businesses also had their liquor licenses suspended following recent SLA enforcement action, according to the Governor’s office. Here’s a sampling of some of the cases:

  • Paper Rain, 2770 Atlantic Ave. in East New York Brooklyn, had its liquor license suspended on Dec. 4, three days after law enforcement agents busted a “stripper party” from 6 p.m. until midnight at the location; no business is permitted to operate after 10 p.m. under the Governor’s executive order.. Members of the state’s multi-agency task force and the NYPD visited the location and found exotic dancers performing lap dances and six patrons ignoring mask and social distancing requirements.
  • Just Karaoke, 157-16 Northern Blvd. in Flushing, Queens, had its liquor permit suspended after the NYPD made two visits to the establishment, on Nov. 24 and 27, and found more than 30 patrons inside after 10 p.m. each time, many of whom did not have facial coverings.
  • The Monarch, 23 Meadow St., East Williamsburg, Brooklyn, had its liquor license suspended on Nov. 6 after hosting an illegal Halloween rave on Oct. 31, where nearly 400 people were gathered dancing, standing and drinking. Inspectors observed few of them wearing masks or socially distancing.
  • El Jaguar Restaurant, 536 East 138th St., Bronx, had their permit pulled on Nov. 1, two days after SLA and NYPD officers came to the location and found 50 people inside the premises standing, drinking and dancing without masks. The business owners had attempted to conceal the illegal activity by lowering the roll-down gates and placing a tarp over an outdoor dining structure.

Any business found in violation of the regulations risks a fine of up to $10,000 per violation, and the SLA reserves the right to immediately suspend the establishment’s liquor license. Repeat violators risk revocation of the permit.

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