Has the New York State Liquor Authority (SLA) stopped caring about local Community Boards? Since the early aughts the SLA has appeared to be at the beck and call of a few CBs (especially in lower Manhattan) but things seem to be changing. Since this summer alone the SLA has flat out refused to put a moratorium on new licenses in Brooklyn and renewed liquor licenses for a few places despite strong objections from the local Board. Most recently to be on the right side of the trend? The East Village bar Heathers. Curious about what was going on, we called the SLA. Short answer? It's the economy, stupid.
Bill Crowley, a spokesperson for the SLA, explains that a lot of what is going on is that "there is a huge difference between a renewal and an original application for a license and the Community Board's role in that. If we don't have violations that we've brought against [a venue] or that have been brought to us by the NYPD, the Department of Health or the Department of Buildings, or something like that, which merits us revoking their liquor license, it is very unlikely that we're going to deny their renewal."
"It is very tough for us to deny somebody's renewal," he emphasized. "That is essentially shutting down their business just based on complaints that haven't been charged or adjudicated."
Still, joints that are most likely to get the SLA seriously reconsidering a renewal? "Places that are violent, that are nuisances to their community, and places that are selling to minors or intoxicated people."
So, yeah, basically bars that have already gotten their liquor licenses are not very likely to lose them just because their Community Board doesn't like them. Which doesn't mean they should act up (nosey neighbors with the local NYPD precinct and 311 on speed dial are watching, after all). Plus, Crowley points out that "we get a lot of good information from CBs that lead to us taking disciplinary action or turning things over to the NYPD."