The New York State Liquor Authority (SLA) summarily suspended the liquor license of White Horse Hospitality LLC, doing business as the “White Horse Tavern” at 567 Hudson Street in Manhattan. The business was found repeatedly violating the Governor’s Executive Order, requiring bars and restaurants to adhere to social distancing guidelines to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
On June 14th, while NYC was still in Phase One of reopening, an undercover SLA investigator purchased alcohol without food at the illegal outdoor bar. The investigator later warned the owner that for takeout service, the only service then allowed under the Executive Order 202.3, alcohol purchases must accompany food and licensees must ensure patrons are not congregating outside of their premises. On June 20th, members of the New York State Task Force visited the premises observing sixty-seven patrons consuming alcohol in front of the premises. The SLA charged the licensee with three violations of the Governor’s Executive Orders.
The SLA also recently received reports from the New York City Police Department (NYPD) that on June 6th, 9th and 13th as many as one-hundred patrons gathered outside the tavern with an illegal bar set up and music blaring and, each time, the owner or manager was warned about Executive Order violations. The NYPD additionally report that on June 26th, officers met with the owner regarding numerous complaints of noise and social distancing violations. Officials also observed an illegal wooden patio platform that extended dangerously out onto the street.
On June 27th, NYPD officers responding to a 311 call discovered a crowd of approximately one-hundred patrons drinking on the sidewalk and street directly in from of the bar, with the NYPD issuing a summons for disorderly premises. A week later, on July 4th, the NYPD again responded to large crowds directly outside the establishment, without masks or practicing social distancing. Additionally, the tavern was cited for violating NYC Department of Transportation rules requiring outdoor activities to cease at 11:00 p.m.
“Despite numerous warnings, this licensee continued to recklessly violate protocols that have helped to dramatically slow the spread of the coronavirus throughout New York,” said SLA Chairman Vincent Bradley. “The SLA will not hesitate to take action against licensees who jeopardize lives and threaten the progress our state has made.”
On July 7, 2020, the SLA charged the White Horse Tavern with thirty violations, including multiple counts of failure to comply with Governor Cuomo’s Executive Orders concerning COVID-19 restaurant restrictions, operating an unauthorized outdoor bar 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 July 8, 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.