The bar carts and commissary counters at Grand Central Terminal have been closed since last Wednesday as the MTA is auditing the vendors under a shroud of suspicion. An MTA spokesman confirmed a Journal News report stating that Metro-North suspended booze sales as part of a probe into missing money, and that three employees have been suspended as the investigation continues.
The MTA Inspector General's Office is involved in the investigation, a spokesman for the agency confirmed.
Metro-North booze sales were already set to be suspended over the weekend for SantaCon. The carts and commissary are cash only. For the coming year, the MTA anticipates that the retail operations in Grand Central will bring in $68 million in total revenue. If history is any guide, several million of that would be coming from the bar carts and commissary counters.
Signs along the upper-level tracks where the bar carts would normally be currently advise commuters that the carts and counters "are not available at this time," and recommend that seekers of cold ones try one of the businesses inside the terminal.
Brian O'Gorman, a construction manager from Greenwich, Connecticut, has been commuting into the city for 15 years, often stopping for a beer with the lads before catching the train back. On Monday afternoon at around 4:30, capping a work shift that started in the early morning, he was standing around a tall table on the lower level with a group of fellow working stiffs sipping on tall cans of Budweiser and Bud Light that he said they purchased at the nearby Zaro's Bakery. Usually, he and the fellows patronize the carts, and he is sad to see them taken out of commission.
"Zaro's is getting our money now," he said. "There you're just a customer. Over here," at the carts, "they treated you like a person."
O'Gorman said he'd heard rumors of the investigation and noticed the carts gone on Friday.
"Those were good guys," he said of the cart vendors. "They took care of you like a regular. I feel for 'em. It's the holidays, and they've got families."
Transport Workers Union Local 2001 did not respond to a call seeking comment.
In a statement, an MTA spokesman said, "We will re-open the commissary as quickly as possible."
In September, Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy announced that the beloved in-train Metro-North bar cars, discontinued in 2014, are returning to the New Haven Line. No date has been set.