Tag Archives: State Liquor Authority

Knockdown center denied liquor license


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of The Knockdown Center/Ariana Page Russell

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The Knockdown Center took a straight right to the chin courtesy of the State Liquor Authority (SLA).

The SLA denied the Maspeth arts center’s license application at a full board hearing Tuesday. The center had applied for a cabaret class license, which would have allowed the it to serve liquor at events that have “musical entertainment” for 600 or more people.

“This is a vital step in preserving residents’ quality of life and maintaining the needed level of neighborhood safety,” said state Sen. Joseph Addabbo. “I will continue to fight to keep our homes and streets a safe haven when it comes to the Knockdown Center as well as any other establishment threatening our way of life. I look forward to an open dialogue regarding the future of this site.”

The center applied for the license despite heavy opposition from Community Board 5, neighborhood leaders and politicians, who feared that it would negatively impact the community.

The center, a former glass and door factory turned arts hall, has hosted everything from weddings, Tiki Disco parties, a mini-golf art exhibition and, most recently, a flea market. Owners also want to host art classes, concerts and large exhibits in the future.

In a letter in March following the application, the community board cited several reasons why they don’t want the center to have the liquor license, including extra pressure it will put on the 104th Precinct during events, the possible influx of vehicular traffic and problems it could bring to nearby residences.

Representatives from the center didn’t return calls for comment as of print time.

 

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Undercover operation busts eight Queens stores for selling alcohol to minors


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

LiquorBottlesHC0401_L_300_C_Y

An undercover investigation has caught eight Queens stores, mostly near high schools and colleges, for allegedly selling alcohol to minors.

The busted businesses, located in Astoria, Long Island City and Flushing, were part of an effort by the State Liquor Authority (SLA) to fight underage drinking in the city, according to Governor Andrew Cuomo, who announced the results of the investigation Monday.

“The law is the law, and we will continue to do whatever it takes to crack down on underage drinking and hold accountable those who serve alcohol to minors,” Cuomo said. “Our message is simple: If you put children at risk by placing alcohol in their hands, you will face the consequences.”

From April 17 to May 1, the SLA used decoys to visit 74 liquor and grocery stores throughout the five boroughs, according to the governor.

The operation was conducted by the SLA’s newly formed part-time investigative unit, which was funded using a $147,000 grant from the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

During the sting, uncover minors were allegedly able to buy alcohol at 32 of those businesses, including WooYong Corp., Astoria Vitality & Health Inc. and Green Leaf Deli & Mini Mart in Astoria; Cruz Mexican Products Inc. in Long Island City; and Parsons Convenience Store Inc., Parsons Wine & Liquor Inc., R & H Food Corp., Amy’s Deli, and P & M Convenience Store Inc., in Flushing.

Some of the stores are within walking distance of several high schools, as well as St. John’s University and Queens College.

Businesses can face civil penalties of up to $10,000 per violation if charged for selling alcohol to minors as well as fines, starting at $2,500 to $3,000, for a first time offense. Repeat offenders can potentially have their licenses suspended or revoked.

 

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Contentious Maspeth Knockdown Center faces opposition in liquor license application


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of The Knockdown Center/ Ariana Page Russell

Follow me @liamlaguerre

 

In round one in the fight for The Knockdown Center to obtain a liquor license, it seems the local community board won’t be in their corner.

The center recently applied for a cabaret liquor license from the State Liquor Authority (SLA), according to Community Board 5, despite heavy opposition from residents and elected officials. The cabaret class license will allow the center to serve liquor at events, which have “musical entertainment,” for 600 or more people.

The community board wrote a letter to SLA opposing the license, outlining fears of negative impacts the center could have on the neighborhood.

“This is an accident waiting to happen,” said Bob Holden, a member of the board and president of the Juniper Park Civic Association. “This is a blue print for disaster right here.”

The center, a former glass and door factory turned arts hall, has hosted everything from weddings, Tiki Disco parties, a mini-golf art exhibition, and most recently a flea market. Owners also want to host art classes and large exhibits in the future.

In the letter, the board cited various reasons why they don’t want the center to have the liquor licenses, including extra pressure it will put on the 104th Precinct during events, the possible influx of vehicular traffic and problems it could bring to the immediate residences.

“All too typical with young people partying at raves and other events, which this could certainly house there is extensive alcohol abuse, but also abuse of prescription drugs and drugs like molly and ecstasy,” the letter stated. “There is a residential community very nearby, just on the opposite side of Flushing Avenue from the site in question. Problems with intoxication, fights, calls for ambulances and noise from loud music will hurt the residential community.”

Members are also worried that the center is taking away the opportunity for industrial jobs, as the site is zoned for manufacturing.

Recently it was revealed that Mayor Bill de Blasio didn’t include $1.1 million in his preliminary budget for the Industrial Business Zones (IBZ) program, which were created to save and foster manufacturing jobs in the city. There are two IBZs in the board, one in Masepth, and the newly approved zone in Ridgewood.

“We should start talking about how we could protect our manufacturing zones,” said John Maier, the co-chair of the board’s Transportation Committee. “How we can go and address our elected (officials) and the city government to help ensure that these facilities don’t [effect] on our IBZs (Industrial Business Zones)?”

The center has been working on obtaining its Place of Assembly and Certificate of Occupancy, and has maintained it will not harm the community.

“We are excited that the community is getting involved and expressing their concerns,” said Tyler Myers, manager of the Knockdown Center. “We know that our direct neighbors are excited about it. The concerns of the larger community weren’t true last summer, and won’t be true [in the future].”

 

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Workers left unemployed for Christmas after Trade Fair abruptly closes


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of RWDSU Communications

Rafael Polanco might have to tell his two children that this Christmas will come without presents.

The East Elmhurst resident, along with 49 other union workers, all lost their jobs on Dec. 10 when the Trade Fair Supermarket, on 37th Avenue in Jackson Heights, closed its doors abruptly without giving the workers any notice.

The workers claimed they turned up on Tuesday morning and management told them the store had been sold and they had to go home because they no longer had jobs.

“They didn’t give us an explanation. They didn’t give us a number to call. They didn’t say anything about the new owner. No one gave us an explanation,” said Polanco, who has been a deli worker at Trade Fair for 14 years. “They treat their workers like animals. We are human, they should give us explanations.

Members of Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW and Local 342 UFCW, unions representing the Trade Fair workers, gathered with local elected officials and community members in front of the supermarket on Dec. 13 to protest Trade Fair’s actions and to call on the new owner, Amana Key Food LLC, to hire the terminated workers.

According to the unions, Trade Fair’s closing and termination of the worker violates the collective bargaining agreements held with the owner, which demands the company give the union and workers two weeks notice of either sale or closure.

Amana Key Food LLC filed an application or a liquor license with the State Liquor Authority for the site on November 14, showing the sale has been in the works for more than a month, according to the unions.

In March, meat department workers in all nine Queens Trade Fair locations went on an Unfair Labor Practice strike fighting for a fair contract and against unfair labor practices. During the strike the owner was accused of treating workers with disrespect and putting their live in danger with exits being blocked most of the time.

“For far too long he [Farid Jaber] has been a bad neighbor,” said Councilmember Daniel Dromm. “This is a clear violation of his contractual obligation and labor law. He has betrayed his employees and the community of Jackson Heights.”

Last week’s termination happened just weeks before Christmas, leaving workers like Polanco looking for jobs and wondering where they will get money to give gifts to their kids.

“Us older people we understand the situation but the children don’t understand,” Polanco said.

According to a union representative, days after the rally Amana Key Food LLC handed out job applications to the terminated workers, but none have been hired yet.

Amana Key Food LLC could not be reached for comment and Trade Fair did not respond.



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Despite setbacks, Maspeth Knockdown Center determined to host events


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Knockdown Center/Ariana Page Russell

The Knockdown Center is not backing down.

The Department of Buildings (DOB) recently reviewed and disapproved the center’s plan for a Place of Assembly Certificate of Operation (PA) on October 24, but Knockdown’s manager said they will tweak their proposal until it meets regulations.

The PA is required for a site that seeks to have 75 or more people gathered indoors or more than 200 outside.

“We are committed to ensuring we have the optimal building plan from the DOB perspective, and have found the plan reviews very helpful, and believe that our plans will be approved soon,” said Tyler Myers, the center’s manager.

The Knockdown Center, a former glass and door factory turned arts hall, has hosted everything from weddings, Tiki Disco parties and even a mini-golf art exhibition, since last year.

The center became a hot controversial community issue after a representative announced they were considering applying for a license from the State Liquor Authority (SLA) to serve alcohol at future events at the 52-19 Flushing Avenue site.

At the Community Board 5 October meeting, the Land Use Committee rejected granting a liquor license for the center, although Knockdown could still make a case to the SLA for the license.

Residents and politicians in the community are split on the center, some feeling that it could bring jobs and is a good use of the more than century-year old building. Others believe it will create a club environment in a neighborhood where many residents live.

“There is some evidence of people being carried out, a lot of evidence of people partying and loud music, and there is evidence of love making right in the open,” said Bob Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association.

“We’re concerned that it will lower the quality of life.”

 

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Liquor Authority votes no booze for Astoria bikini bar


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

The girls can show some skin, but cannot serve guests some drinks.

On July 2, the State Liquor Authority (SLA) rejected a liquor license application from the owners of Racks, a restaurant and bar that owners are seeking to open at 19-26 Steinway Street.

During the SLA meeting, local politicians and residents showed up to voice their heavy opposition to the bar, where female servers would be wearing bikinis.

“A place like Racks is wholly out of character with the family-friendly neighborhood of its proposed location,” said Assemblymember Aravella Simotas, whose office has heard a large community outcry against the bar. “Astoria does not need scantily-clad women performing lap and pole dances a stone’s throw away from a playground, middle school and our neighbor’s homes.”

According to Simotas, the proposed adult establishment would reduce property values, increase the need for additional law enforcement and damage the community.

“I tip my hat to the State Liquor Authority for listening to our community and helping preserve the character of our neighborhood,” said Senator Michael Gianaris. “This decision is a victory for our quality of life and for the thousands of families raising their children in Astoria.”

In April, Community Board 1 voted against a liquor license recommendation for Racks. But the board added that the owners could still set up shop and even feature topless adult entertainment.

Kerry John Katsorhis, the lawyer for Racks, could not be reached as of press time. During the April meeting, he said children would not have to pass by the bar to get the playground.

 

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Board votes down outdoor seating at Alobar


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

File photo

Alobar customers will now have to spend the summer indoors after a final vote from Community Board 2 (CB2) denied the restaurant the use of its backyard space.

The popular restaurant at 46-42 Vernon Boulevard in Hunters Point must adhere to a stipulation of its liquor license prohibiting outdoor seating.

Owner Jeff Blath met with CB2’s City Service and Public Safety Committee on June 12 to discuss opening his backyard space to customers. He said the board told him it could not make an exception for his restaurant without setting a precedent for other establishments.

“They were really clear that Alobar is an excellent addition to the neighborhood,” said Blath. “The reason was that if they say yes to Alobar, they have to say yes to everyone.”

Blath said he finds the decision “disappointing.” He previously noted the effect on his business, saying he loses dozens of customers who ask for the outdoor seating.

“It’s thousands of dollars a month and it’s enough to put people out of business,” said Bath. “It’s enough to make people lose their jobs.”

CB 2 Chair Joseph Conley previously told The Courier the board has had to deal with establishments whose backyard seating caused disturbances to neighbors and the community. He added that residents in the area have voiced their opposition to the plan.

However, Blath said he gathered nearly 500 signatures for a petition and has spoken with his neighbors that say otherwise.

Before the meeting, Blath built 11-foot-high walls to block out noise and had a sound engineer suggest other changes to make the seating area quieter. He was also trying to work with the board to cut back hours at the backyard from 10 p.m. to 6 p.m.

“I was willing to bend over backwards to make this happen,” said Blath. “When you see another place just a block away from you go out of business, it scares you. My heart is in this business. I can’t help but think what’s going to happen.”

Blath is looking to appeal the board’s decision with the State Liquor Authority.

CB2 did not respond to calls as of press time.

 

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