Follow-up: the NYPD’s Case Against Mason Dixon
This past Friday night, we broke the news that two Lower East Side bars – Mason Dixon and Los Feliz – were shut down by the 7th Precinct for alleged underage drinking violations. After having a look at court documents, we have a more complete picture this afternoon of the allegations being made by the NYPD.
According to the complaint, undercover (and underage) auxiliary officers have been served alcohol at Mason Dixon, which is owned by Rob Shamlian, on at least two separate occasions (in February and March). In one instance, city attorneys claimed, alcohol was being served past 4 a.m., which is not permitted under New York state law.
The complaint also recounts several fights that broke out inside and outside the bar in December of last year and in January of this year. On Dec. 4, the document states, a fight “resulted in one person being punched and kicked by five other patrons” (they were arrested and charged with assault). Two nights later, police reported, a “patron was struck in the head with a beer bottle… causing pain and bleeding which required immediate medical attention.”
The complaint notes that another venue Shamlian owns, Spitzer’s Corner, has also been twice shut down by court order for underage drinking violations. The city is asking the court to close Mason Dixon for one year and to impose stiff fines. We’re told the two sides began negotiating a settlement yesterday. No word yet on a resolution that would allow the bar to reopen.
Last month, Gallery Bar on Orchard Street faced a similar situation. The city and bar owners made a deal which required the establishment to abide by a number of restrictions. Yesterday, we viewed the settlement agreement, which compels Gallery Bar to:
- use automatic ID verification scanners
- employ up to six licensed security guards on busy evenings
- be under the direct supervision of one of the three owners
- hire a sound engineer to look into sound-proofing
- maintain the current video surveillance system
- pay a $10,000 fine
- consent to spot inspections by NYPD officers
Shamlian has declined to comment about the Mason Dixon and Los Feliz case until later in the week. One unnamed bartender told Gothamist:
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 stripping 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.. 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.
As reported yesterday, the building owner at 133 Essex, where Mason Dixon is located, has been in discussions with Matt Levine (formerly of The Eldridge) to take over the Mason Dixon space. It’s unclear how those conversations might impact the NYPD’s case against Shamlian.
We expect the topic of nightlife enforcement to come up at tonight’s 7th Precinct Community Council meeting. It takes place at 7:30pm, at 19 Pitt Street (Delancey).