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Follow-up: the NYPD’s Case Against Mason Dixon

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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).


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  1. Harrassment by the 7th? More likely it is the 7th being harangued by local residents to do something about the noise and underage drinking.

  2. As a 30 year resident who had to put up with the yelling and screaming by rowdy bar patrons,I applaud the 7th precinct.Ludlow Street,between Houston and Delancy has become a nightmare.I live near Delancy,and can not tell you how many times I have been woken up by people yelling and sceaming as if they are being murdered.Things have improved somewhat with the new police commander.Keep up the good work you guys!

  3. the police are doing an admirable job at handling a very, very bad situation. i don’t think anyone who hasn’t actually experienced the mayhem of the ludlow/orchard/essex etc nexus on a weekend night can *really understand* how bad it is. “loud” doesn’t convey it, and they think “mayhem’ is an exaggeration. it is not. i haven’t gone to sleep before 4:30a on a friday or saturday in years. i have witnessed countless fights, just from my one window – extrapolate that into the whole neighborhood and you have *a lot* of violence. in the last six months or so, however, there has been a marked increase in police presence and visibility and, while the noise is unchanged (the crowds are just as big), there has been a notable decrease in violence – fewer fights start and, when they do, 9 times out of 10 the police show up before any punches are thrown – that is how present they are, and i am grateful for it. i also understand that in addition to a moratorium on the approval of new liquor licenses (i assume that this is still in effect) some rule has been passed that changes the up-until-now automatic transfer of a liquor license from an establishment that is going out of business to its replacement – which is crucial if the insanity of the state liquor board (none of whom, i guarantee you, live on ludlow street btw houston and delancy), which created this mayhem, is to be reversed. anyone who thinks businesses are being harrassed shouldl have to live even for just a month in a street-facing apartment iin that area – i think that it might change their perspective.

  4. I guess you guys didn’t see these bars before you moved here I’ve been here for 40 years before these bars, and what these bars an other new small business do is bring jobs for this community,and yes if you don’t like noise move out of the city; THE CITY THAT NEVER SLEEPS. Thanks to the 7th precinct, great job captain Miller hope you could sleep at night after taking people out of business.

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