Does the East Village's Webster Hall have an underage drinking problem? We ask because we were just forwarded a very disturbing e-mail from an EMT (representing a group of them) working out of Beth Israel who claims the club has a serious underage drinking problem. According to our source, "at least 14 underage drinkers were taken to the hospital this month alone."
Here's the e-mail we received, which was also sent to Community Board 3 and the New York State Liquor Authority:
I am submitting this complaint anonymously on behalf of a group of EMTs and Paramedics who work at Beth Israel Medical Center. It has become apparent to us that Webster Hall routinely serves, and over serves, alcohol to underage persons. We frequently are dispatched to the location for intoxicated persons.
When we arrive the establishment's security has invariably removed the person to the sidewalk outside the club. These persons are usually intoxicated to the point of being completely incapable of controlling themselves. When we remove them to the ambulance and begin our assessment we usually find that the person is underage.
As an example of the frequency of this problem I have been keeping track of how often I am dispatched to Webster Hall. In the month of July 2012 alone I have been dispatched there 18 times. Every call save one was for an intoxicated person. Of those 18 patients 14 were found to be under 21. The lone non alcohol call was for the well publicized stabbing that occurred there. To give those numbers some context: those of us who work at Beth Israel work 12 hour shifts. This means that we only work three days a week. This means that I have only worked 10 times so far this month. That averages to 1.8 responses to Webster Hall per shift and that's on only one of the four ambulances that Beth Israel provides to the NYC 911 system and doesn't include the other hospital and Fire Department units who work the area.
In addition to the issues of underage drinking Webster Hall's location is also beginning to become hazardous for us to safely perform our tasks. When we arrive onscene our routes on ingress and egress are often blocked by unruly crowds. The security guards are frequently as aggressive as the patrons, as I assume having a group of ambulances in front of the venue can not be good for business.
I offer absolutely no proof of any of these allegations. If I did, in fact, have proof it would be illegal for me to share it with you. We just feel that this problem has become common enough to be brought to light.
Webster Hall management has yet to return our call about the allegations—however a person we spoke to on the phone sounded dubious. Meanwhile, CB3 District Manager Susan Stetzer, who received the complaint yesterday, says she is taking the e-mail very seriously: "I plan to forward it immediately to both the 9th Precinct and SLA enforcement," she told us.
According to the the SLA Webster Hall has seven liquor licenses at 119-125 East 11th Street. In its favor? One of our underage interns at Gothamist HQ was pretty surprised by the story. "Webster Hall is really intense," she told us. "Everyone in my dorm knew to not go there with fakes because they'd get taken away." And despite being quite legal we've definitely had our IDs closely inspected there. On the other hand, Guest of Guest, an authority on NYC's douchey party scene, says it's one of the "top ten places to get wasted with a fake I.D."
Our tipster adds, "The problem has always been known but it seems that it has gotten worse lately, which is why we decided to bring it to light. As for the guards they are mainly rushing us to get off scene because, I believe, we aren't good for business, and our trucks block the street (because their crowd corral blocks half of it) and they can't manage the cab traffic that seems to be a big part of their job. Mainly they're jerks, but there have been a few screaming matches between crews and security."