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Gallery Bar Owner Speaks Out on Underage Drinking Crackdown

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Gallery Bar, 120 Orchard Street.

More this morning on the 7th Precinct’s crackdown on Lower East Side bars and clubs. At a community meeting last week, Captain David Miller said underage drinking is a problem in several neighborhood nightlife venues. 

He indicated some bouncers are taking bribes from underage customers:

A bouncer is sitting there taking $20 from an individual shouldn’t be tolerated. When I tell you how many clubs there are out there where the bouncers, the security, will take money from individuals, it’s absurd, you wouldn’t believe it… We actually had an establishment where the bouncers would know the individuals were underage. They say, ‘come here, it’s okay. Give me $20 and you can come in.’ We don’t need to see that in this community.

This morning, DNA Info has a follow-up. Reporter Patrick Hedlund spoke with Darin Rubell, co-owner of Gallery Bar on Orchard Street, one of several etablishments shut down by the NYPD:

In once instance, a bouncer accepted a cash bribe to allow an underage patron into the establishment, said Gallery Bar owner Darin Rubell. He said he’s defenseless against the practice, given that he can’t monitor his security guards’ every move. “It’s not my goal to sit here and serve underages. My goal is to make money as a business,” he said, equating the police’s tactic of using undercover agents to bust bars to entrapment. “Anyone running a business under a microscope, you’ll see the flaws,” he added. “You’re going to make mistakes, it happens.” Rubell explained that after the bust he was mandated to hire bouncers through an outside security company, a common practice at many nightlife venues. “My security bill literally is now more than my rent,” he said of being required to double the amount of guards he employs. “You only hope that [bouncers] can do the job they were hired to do.”

Last week, Miller disputed the contention of several bar owners that the precinct shuts down nightlife venues with no notice. “No bar owner who’s ever had a problem can tell you I did not walk in there first and talk with them personally,” he said.   But Rubell has a different perspective:

Rubell believes that more open communication between the police and bar owners is key to curbing the problem. “We don’t really have an underage problem — the cops are creating one,” he said, explaining he wasn’t notified of the NYPD’s undercover actions dating back to September until police closed him down, and therefore couldn’t move to address the problem earlier. Rubell added that since he also wasn’t told which bouncer took the bribe, he was forced to fire to his entire security staff and hire an entirely new one. “I don’t believe underage drinking is some monster problem,” he said. “If [police] believe it is, they should work with the venues to address this.”


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  1. living on the same block as gallery bar for over three years, i can say that the cops would not need to entrap in order to spot underage drinking at gallery bar, they would simply need to show up. mr. rubell may not be able to police every move of his bouncers, but before the shutdown it was one of the worst bounced bars i’ve witnessed. i know of numerous complaints to 311, the community board, and mr. rubell himself, and he has always reacted with the same sense of not having any idea these things were happening in his bar. he’s either being negligent, disingenuous, or outright dishonest. i think it’s safe to say he may be among the 3% of owners captain miller is interested in leaning on, and certainly with cause, though i’m sure mr. rubell would beg to differ. the price he’s having to pay now to hire actual security may be steep. hopefully he saved some of the profits he made along the way cutting corners and skirting the issue.

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