The New York State Liquor Authority (SLA) summarily suspended the license of S & S Tavern of Oneonta Inc., doing business as the “Sip & Sail Tavern” at 80 Water Street in Oneonta today. The suspension was ordered by Chairman Vincent Bradley, Commissioner Lily Fan and Commissioner Greeley Ford at a meeting of the Full Board on November 20, 2019. Effective immediately, no alcohol may be sold or consumed on the premises.
Following complaints of underage drinking and sales to intoxicated patrons, on Friday, November 15th, investigators from the SLA, the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), the New York State Police (NYSP) and the Oneonta Police Department (OPD) conducted a compliance inspection at the premises. SLA undercover investigators entered the premises at approximately 11:40 p.m., observing nearly 200 patrons appearing to be underage crowded inside the bar with a maximum occupancy of 178. Approximately twenty minutes later, with the bar packed beyond capacity with approximately 300 patrons, the DMV, NYSP, OPD and SLA investigators secured the premises to begin checking IDs,
The investigation found that nearly ninety percent of the patrons were under twenty-one, despite the bar’s policy of not admitting anyone underage. SLA investigators observed two direct sales to minors, in addition to obtaining forty-three statements from minors who admitted to consuming alcohol provided by other patrons or purchased from bartenders. In addition, DMV investigators and OPD officers issued 138 appearance tickets to minors for possession of fictitious or fraudulent identification and confiscated 223 fake IDs.
“This licensee has displayed a disturbing indifference to the law by pursuing a business plan seemingly based on catering to minors,” said SLA Vincent Bradley. “The SLA will continue to take immediate action against bar owners who fail to take basic measures to ensure their patrons are of legal age, including checking IDs, training employees and obtaining scanners to spot fakes.”
“We take enforcing the law to prevent underage drinking very seriously,” said DMV Commissioner Mark J.F. Schroeder. “Any establishment selling alcohol to minors is not only putting their ability to operate at risk, they are endangering young people and those who may share the road with them if they are driving.”
On November 19th, the SLA charged the Sip & Sail Tavern with fifty-three violations of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law, including forty-seven counts for selling to a minor, exceeding maximum occupancy, failure to supervise and employing unlicensed bouncers.
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.