151 Bar Targeted in NYPD Underage Drinking Crackdown Last Night

151 Rivington Street.

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.

Lower East Side Bars Targeted in Recent Raids

Tammany Hall, 152 Orchard.

Police and other city and state officials were out in force on the Lower East Side last night, inspecting several nightlife venues for possible violations.  Tammany Hall (152 Orchard), Boss Tweeds (115 Essex), Leftfield (87 Ludlow), The Suffolk (107 Suffolk), Fat Baby (112 Rivington), La Caverna (122 Rivington) and Recoup Lounge (210 Rivington) were all targeted.

The raids were part of an initiative known as the Multi-Agency Response to Community Hotspots (MARCH), in which the NYPD, State Liquor Authority, Department of Environmental Protection, Department of Health and Department of Buildings pay periodic visits to nightlife establishments that have been the subject of complaints.  The task force was created by the Giuliani administration following the tragic Happy Land fire in 1990.  Mayor Bloomberg has stepped up use of the raids.

PKNY Tiki Bar Faces Underage Drinking Charges

PKNY, 49 Essex Street.

It was a busy night for the NYPD on the Lower East Side.  As we already reported, the 7th Precinct delivered a restraining order to Lolita, the bar at 266 Broome Street.  The business now faces a civil lawsuit for alleged underage drinking violations.  Cops were also on the scene at PKNY, the artisanal tiki bar at 49 Essex Street.

We’re told PKNY was not forced to shut down, but its owners do have an upcoming court date to answer the city’s charges.  The violations occurred during visits by undercover auxiliary police officers.  City attorneys will likely ask the owners to beef up security and screening for underage drinkers in exchange for dropping the suit.

The bar opened as “Painkiller,” three years ago and later changed its name to PKNY due to a lawsuit.  The liquor license is listed on the State Liquor Authority’s web site under the names Richard Boccato and Sasha Petraske (the info may be outdated; Petraske reportedly sold his interest at 49 Essex long ago).  We contacted Boccato this morning for comment. No word yet.


NYPD Files Suit Against Lolita Bar For Alleged Underage Drinking (Updated 10:23 a.m.)

Valentine’s Day was not sweet for at least one Lower East Side nightlife establishment. The 7th Precinct paid a visit to Lolita Bar at 266 Broome Street last night.  You can see the results; a restraining order notice was slapped on the door.  The city has filed a civil suit alleging underage drinking at the low-key LES hangout.

According to documents, underage patrons, undercover auxiliary police officers, were served on several occasions beginning last fall.  The city filed the case in State Supreme Court; a hearing is anticipated next Tuesday, February 19.  A short time ago, Matt Friedlander, the bar’s general manager, told us Lolita was not closed down last night and they’ll be open as usual this evening.

Temple of Ankh Faces New Underage Drinking Charges

Temple of Ankh, 58 Clinton Street. Last night.

Temple of Ankh, the hookah bar at 58 Clinton Street, is dealing with more legal troubles this week.  Back in January, the NYPD closed the establishment after state regulators accused owner Wahed Shenouda of violating workers’ compensation laws.  Those charges were later dropped.  This past weekend, the 7th Precinct was back at Temple of Ankh, after obtaining a temporary restraining order in civil court.

White Slab Palace Closed for Liquor License Lapse

As we reported a short time ago, another bar was caught up in the Lower East Side nightlife crackdown this evening.  Shortly after 10 p.m., officers from the 7th Precinct showed up at White Slab Palace, the Swedish restaurant/drinking destination at 77 Delancey Street.  Acting on a court order, they instructed owner Annika Sundvik to close the bar down.

Many other neighborhood nightlife establishments have been shuttered for underage drinking violations.  The White Slab Palace case is apparently a little different.   Several months ago, the State Liquor Authority learned that the bar was operating without a liquor permit. Since that time, Sundovik got her license reinstated. But the court proceedings had already been set in motion and – finally – this week the judge gave the NYPD the go-ahead to close the bar.

Tonight, quite a few customers, who were inside when police arrived, gathered on the sidewalk, watching through the bar’s big glass windows as the place was being shut down.  Some of them complained about the closure, saying White Slab Palace is a pretty low key place — not a raucous club. Captain David Miller, who’s overseeing the precinct’s nightlife crackdown, stood outside, explaining to passersby what was happening.

In June, the SLA fined the bar $500 (the state’s antiquated computer system does not specify why the penalty was imposed).  White Slab Palace is still fending off a civil lawsuit from a woman who was hit in the head by a moosehead that came off the wall during a night of partying in 2009. Tonight one officer noted that the windows along Delancey Street were shattered long ago but Sundovik has not gotten around to repairing the damage.

She’ll presumably be in court next week, trying to get her bar reopened. We’ll follow-up.

Records Show Spike in Underage Drinking Charges on the LES

Max Fish, the Ludlow Street institution, is one of several bars that have been temprarily shut down by the NYPD.

Underage drinking in Lower East Side bars — it’s been a hot topic for several months now.  Beginning last fall, the 7th Precinct made it a top priority — coming after neighborhood drinking establishments for serving alcohol to undercover auxiliary officers. This week the East Village Local adds some hard statistics to the ongoing story.

Their report, posted yesterday, is based on a review on State Liquor Authority records in the East Village, LES and Chinatown.  The EVL concludes:

The police crackdown on bars in the Lower East Side resulted in a dramatic increase in charges of underage drinking against business owners… During a three-month stretch of intense enforcement early this year, the S.L.A., which acts on recommendations from the police, handed down 39 charges of underage drinking in the neighborhood, compared to 31 charges issued during all of 2009 and 2010.

Tammany Hall Brawl: Police Commish Defends Officers

An update this morning on the brawl that took place outside the Tammany Hall nightclub on Orchard Street this week.  As we reported yesterday, five people arrested Tuesday night were arraigned in Criminal Court and released (without having to post bail). Gabriel Diaz, Jade Everette,  Lewis Pena and Cynthia Rosa face felony assault, felony rioting and other charges. A fifth defendant, James Ayala, faces misdemeanor charges (obstructing a governmental administration and disorderly conduct).

Tammany Hall Clubgoers in Court This Morning

The three men and two women arrested in Tuesday night’s riot outside Tammany Hall music club on Orchard Street are facing a judge in a downtown courtroom this morning, while their supporters are organizing a protest there.

The brawl between the NYPD and fans of hip hop acts Smif-N-Wessun and Pete Rock, much of which was captured on video by bystanders, sent five police officers to the hospital, but also drew outcries of police brutality from club patrons and musicians.

Brooklyn Man Charged in Tammany Hall Riot

Police have charged a Brooklyn man in connection with the chaos that erupted during a hip-hop concert at Tammany Hall music club and spilled out into a riot on Orchard Street last night.

Gabriel Diaz, 27, of 244 Bond St., Brooklyn, was charged with two felonies: assault and rioting, according to police. He was also charged with three misdemeanor offenses: obstructing a governmental administration, resisting arrest and inciting to riot; as well as two less-serious violations, disorderly conduct and possession of marijuana.

In all, five people were arrested at the scene, which filled the block of Orchard between Rivington and Stanton with police sirens, flashing lights and shouting shortly after midnight. The NYPD has not released details on the other four individuals taken into custody.

We’ve reached out to Tammany Hall owner Jason Baron to hear the club’s side of the story, but haven’t heard from him yet.


Arrests at Tammany Hall; Patrons Claim NYPD Brutality

Orchard Street in front of Tammany Hall is quiet this morning, but last night was a different story.

An event that began as a hip-hop CD release party at Orchard Street nightclub Tammany Hall yesterday evening ended with blood on the sidewalk, the arrest of half a dozen patrons and at least five police officers injured in the wee hours of the morning.

Ten minutes after midnight, NYPD officers responded to a call for help from security staffers at the club, who reported a dispute among patrons that had grown unruly during the show, according to the Deputy Commissioner for Public Information office, which compiled a preliminary report this morning. Officers arrived to find a large crowd outside the club, and proceeded to arrest one person for disorderly conduct. The suspect fought back, striking an officer in the face and breaking a front tooth, according to DCPI. The suspect then allegedly called for help from other patrons inside and outside the club as officers began to clear out the over-capacity space.

NYPD Storms Tammany Hall on Orchard Street

The scene at Tammany Hall last night, before the police arrived. Photo by Vulkan the Krusader (www.vulkanthekrusader.com)

Fans of hip hop acts Smif N Wessun and Pete Rock are reporting this morning that dozens of NYPD officers stormed the Tammany Hall bar at 152 Orchard St. late last night, breaking up the crowd with pepper spray.

One concertgoer described the scene in a YouTube video posted online early this morning.

The concert was a release party for the two acts’ joint CD, Monumental. The free concert began at 7 p.m. and also featured Da Beatminerz  and DJ Bazarro.

A police spokesman said this morning that he could not provide details on the incident until later today; we’ll follow up as we learn more.

Culturefix Lawyer: Something Stinks on the LES

Photo via Culturefix's Facebook page.

On Friday afternoon, defense attorney Kevin O’Donoghue rose to his feet in closing arguments, telling a state Supreme Court judge, “something stinks on the Lower East Side and (referencing a recent New York Magazine story on the city’s smelliest block) it’s not just Allen Street.” The judge, Martin Schoenfeld (who happens to be a LES resident), corrected him, explaining that Broome Street, west of Allen, was actually the focus of the magazine expose.  But the judge did offer O’Donoghue’s client, Clinton Street nightlife establishment Culturefix, something else — a glimmer of hope in future battles with the NYPD and Community Board 3.

NYPD Closes “Welcome to the Johnsons”

As we tweeted in the wee hours this morning, another bar has been shuttered by the 7th Precinct. This time, it’s Welcome to the Johnsons at 123 Rivington Street.  Last night, the NYPD and city attorneys showed up with a temporary restraining order, forcing the ironic 70’s theme bar to close its doors.  On Tuesday, owner Frannie Marchese will be called in to State Supreme Court to answer allegations that Welcome to the Johnsons serves alcohol to minors and has failed to hire licensed security guards.

NYPD Nightlife Crackdown Turns to “Foundation”

At 10:30 Friday night, two bouncers on duty at Foundation were checking IDs and admitting patrons, who had to walk through a door plastered with three restraining orders.

Last night we were at Foundation, 137 Essex Street, the latest target of the 7th Precinct’s Lower East Side nightlife crackdown, which was slapped with three bright orange restraining order stickers citing underage drinking, overcrowding and safety hazards.

But The Lo-Down’s Jennifer Strom reported the bar was open for business as usual, with bouncers checking IDs of cheerful patrons who pushed past the stickered door to go inside. “It’s just a court date,” one of the bouncers answered in response to her inquiries about the police visit. Bar management declined comment.