The future of The Sixth Ward hangs in the balance after the New York State Liquor Authority decided today to strip the Lower East Side bar of its liquor license. The LES Dwellers, a local community group, said they welcome the SLA’s decision to crack down on the bar, which they say is a “complaint-ridden and illegally-operating” nuisance that contributed to longstanding complaints of noise and general debauchery within the 9-block radius known as Hell Square.
At the center of the complaints, it seems, is the eight-year-old Orchard Street pub’s 90-seat beer garden, which according to the list of charges on theSLA’s written decision did not adhere to the SLA’s rules “in that it did not comply with all applicable building codes and/or fire, health, safety and governmental regulations.” There were also complaints of blocked exits and faulty fire escape ladders — even the food was under scrutiny, as the bar had originally described its menu as upscale vegetarian, but undercover inspectors reported it was now mainly just bar food, including hamburgers. We were unable able to reach the bar’s owner for comment as of Tuesday afternoon.
“Licensed restaurant owners should never be able to morph their business from restaurants into sports bars and nightclubs without the community’s input,” said a spokesperson for the Dwellers, members of which attended the SLA hearing. “While we support and welcome diverse businesses in our neighborhood, those who don’t abide by the rules aren’t welcome. The days of operating outside of approved method-of-operation and ‘bait-and-switch’ tactics are over.” Basically, they’re accusing the Sixth Ward of applying for a liquor license under the guise of being an upstanding restaurant, only to turn it into a bar after the fact.
“This victory happened because residents who were fed up with the constant noise and safety issues spent time researching, investigating, reporting, and advocating the SLA and DOB to scrutinize unlawful operators,” said the Dwellers, who also thanked Community Board 3 for forcing this issue onto the SLA’s agenda. “We are counting on their support in the future to keep our neighborhood safe and help improve quality of life,” the Dwellers spokesperson said.