Here’s an update on the situation at Gallery Bar, the nightlife destination at 120 Orchard shuttered March 11th by the NYPD. They were back in business this past weekend, with a few additions (including two really big doormen managing very orderly crowds lined up on the sidewalk).
As we indicated last week, Judge Joan Kenney cleared the bar to re-open after its owners and city attorneys settled the civil case, which had been filed by the police department’s legal bureau. Among several conditions, Eater reported, the NYPD insisted and owner Darren Rubell agreed to hire extra security. The bar will also apparently be bringing in a sound engineer to look at better noise proofing.
Court papers make it clear the 7th Precinct has been focused on Gallery Bar for at least the past six months or so. On four occasions since September of last year, the documents alleged, “underage auxiliary officers purchased (alcoholic) beverages from a bartender.” In September, police also issued a summons to bar owners for hiring an unlicensed security guard. The complaint called the business a “public nuisance,” it sought the closure of the bar for one year, as well as steep fines.
Gallery Bar is the latest, but definitely not the only, Lower East Side nightlife establishment to be targeted by the 7th Precinct. Late last year, multiple bar owners told us officers were coming after them for what they considered to be minor issues.
A lot of residents, who have for years complained about late night noise and unruly crowds, are relieved that the precinct is finally cracking down. But from a law enforcement perspective, there seems to be a larger concern.
Last year, police shut down Chelsea clubs “Pink,” and “M2,” saying owners had allowed drug dealing and violence to take place inside and outside their establishments. And although it took place five years ago, still fresh in many officers’ minds is the shooting rampage by an unlicensed security guard at the club, “Opus 22,” that left one man dead. The new executive officer in the 7th is Captain David Miller, who was previously assigned to the Chelsea neighborhood.
No one would say any bar or club on the Lower East Side is primed for Chelsea-scale trouble. But the focus on nightlife enforcement, we’re told, is largely aimed at making sure neighborhood establishments are prepared to deal with any criminal incidents that might arise. This is apparently the thinking behind focusing on issues like the training of security guards and crowd control.
In the past few months, nightlife operators and club goers have definitely gotten the message. Over the weekend, Gothamist took note of the NYPD’s show of force outside “The Delancey” music club. One guy tweeted, “Police presence in the LES/Essex/Delancey pocket is INSANE. Cars on every other block. Cops on horses.” Outside another bar, a doorman turned away two underage drinkers, saying, “sorry girls, the Captain in this neighborhood is a stickler.”
The NYPD press office has ignored repeated requests for an interview about the nightlife crackdown. Gallery Bar owners have also not responded to our requests for comment.