The New York State Liquor Authority (SLA) summarily suspended the liquor license of Hudson River Brewing LLC, doing business as the “Hudson Brewing” at 99 South 3rd Street in Hudson. As a “farm brewery,” Hudson Brewing’s license permits alcohol sales for on premises consumption, although such service has now been restricted. The brewery was found operating in violation of the Governor’s Executive Order, which requires licensees to cease on-premises service of food and alcoholic beverages to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
Following complaints of customers gathering outside the premises, including from Hudson’s Mayor, Hudson’s Chief of Police personally warned the brewery on May 19, 2020 that its operations – reflected in a Facebook posting of a picture of patrons congregating to drink outside, on the premises, without social distancing – were in violation of the Governor’s Executive Order. Just three days later, on May 22, SLA Investigators made an undisclosed visit to Hudson Brewing and discovered twenty-seven people drinking on and in proximity to the brewery, some near the entrance and others tailgating. Investigators entered the brewery and were served alcoholic beverages in unsealed plastic cups without any food which, along with allowing patrons to linger or congregate on or next to a licensed premises, are clear violations of the SLA’s long-posted guidance on “to go” orders permitted under the Governor’s Executive Order.
“Despite prior warnings, this licensee continued to defy the Governor’s Executive Order and flout every guideline the SLA has put in place to keep people safe,” said SLA Chairman Vincent Bradley. “Now is not the time to become complacent, and the SLA will not hesitate to take immediate action against licensees whose actions threaten to derail the progress our state has made.”
On May 28, 2020, the SLA charged the Hudson Brewing Company with several violations including failure to comply with Governor Cuomo’s Executive Orders concerning COVID-19 restaurant restrictions and failure to supervise the licensed premises.
The emergency suspension was ordered by Chairman Vincent Bradley, Commissioner Lily Fan, and Commissioner Greeley Ford at a special meeting of the Full Board, conducted by a digitally recorded video conference call under social distancing guidelines, on May 29, 2020. The Full Board found that it could have no confidence that the licensee would follow the EO going forward.
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.