Officers from the 7th Precinct visited 151 Bar on Rivington Street last night to deliver a restraining order to owner Francine Marchese. The city has filed a civil suit accusing the divey nightlife spot of selling liquor to underage auxiliary police officers. According to the complaint, an undercover officer was served beer and/or hard liquor on three occasions since last fall (September 16, December 10, January 24). 151 was not shut down, but cops slapped a restraining order notice on the front door.
Marchese and various partners run 151, as well as St. Jerome’s at 155 Rivington and Welcome to the Johnson’s at 123 Rivington Street. Welcome to the Johnson’s was shut down in 2011 as part of a widespread nightlife crackdown by the 7th Precinct. There has been an enforcement lull in the past year, but the precinct has now refocused on the crackdown. Lolita at 266 Broome Street and PKNY at 49 Essex Street were targeted last week.
Lolita Bar is being taken over by Matthew Kelly of Marshall Stack. Earlier this week, the NYPD civil suit against the establishment was a topic of discussion at Community Board 3′s monthly meeting. A new board member, Chad Marlow, introduced a resolution to deny the new license at 266 Broome due, in part, to the underage lawsuit. Other members argued that it would be unfair to punish a new operator for the alleged transgressions of the current owner.
Meghan Joye, a CB3 member and local bar owner, complained about the NYPD tactics, noting that operators are kept in the dark about problems until cops have enough evidence to take them to court. it would be more effective, she said, if officers notified owners after a first instance of underage drinking so that problems can be addressed on the spot. The board ended up voting against the new license – not due to the underage complaint – but because the owner failed to sign “stipulations” agreed upon at an earlier committee meeting, detailing operating restrictions. If CB3 is asked to reconsider the application, it would take the NYPD lawsuit into account.
We’re trying to get in touch with 151 management this morning concerning last night’s developments.