Yesterday, it was reported that LES hotspots Mason Dixon and Los Feliz, both owned by Rob Shamlian, had been shut down by the police for underage drinking and serving alcohol "after hours." A Mason Dixon spokesman told us that neither establishment had ever served minors, and now one bartender tells us that the Seventh Precinct is just picking on honest small business owners in the area. He writes:

The harassment by the 7th precinct has been relentless the past several months in this area (specifically from Delancy to Houston and Orchard to Essex). Shutting bars down mid-shift on Fridays and Saturdays hurts not only small business owners, but, more importantly i think, the bartenders themselves. While the police may be striping the owners of some degree of profit, the real impact falls on the bartenders, barbacks, and porters who depend on these shifts to pay rent, buy groceries, feed children, etc etc.

WIthout sounding overly pedantic or dogmatic, the root of the situation is class based. No one was complaining ten or fifteen years ago when bars began to open in the area precisely because they anchored real estate value, brought revenue in the form of commerce (whether retail or culinary), created a safer neighborhood, and essentially opened the floodgates for mass gentrification (tragically). Now the same folks benefiting from all this have decided to turn the tables and punish the very establishments that made this possible.

...

The bars, by and large, in this area abide by the laws set before them. Extra personnel in the form of bouncers and doormen ASSURE that under-age drinking does not occur and that any problems that may arise from irresponsible patrons is handled promptly without the need for police management and taking time away from crimes of a more measurable circumstance.

We've contacted the Seventh Precinct about the situation, but others have suggested that the police are too concerned with complaints about the bars. One person commented on the Lo-Down, "There was a girl mugged outside Los Feliz last night at the same time 20 cops were inside 'addressing quality of life concerns.'"