The owner of an embattled Queens restaurant claimed Tuesday that he’s being unfairly blamed for social-distancing violations during a wild street party — while a woman who was serving drinks from the rear of her double-parked SUV got away scot-free.
In a written statement, Brik Astoria owner John Zorbas fumed that his liquor license was suspended last week by the State Liquor Authority, which dubbed his business among “the worst offenders on Steinway Street.”
“The Streets were [crowded] with hundreds of people from everywhere,” Zorbas said.
“A Women set up an OPEN BAR in the middle of the street DOUBLE PARKED and served liquor to everyone who wanted a cocktail yet she was not ever touched by NYPD or the SLA.”
Zorbas also distributed a photo of a woman standing next to a gray SUV with its rear hatch opened to reveal a makeshift bar inside.
The vehicle appears to be the same one that appears in a video clip that was posted on Twitter early on the morning of July 18.
“People are partying in the streets in massive crowds and selling booze out of the back of their cars on Steinway in #Astoria. Anyone going to do anything about this?” user @vodkapond wrote, tagging others including Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio and the NYPD’s 114th Precinct.
Zorbas’ brother, Brik chef Manny Zorbas, told The Post there were actually “multiple people” on the street selling drinks to the rowdy crowd.
“I found other two people selling frozen drinks out of coolers to people,” he said.
“And I told them, ‘Can you guys not do it here? I don’t care where, whatever, where else. You do it, do not do it in front of my spot.’ So they were doing it, like, in front of the deli that’s next door to us, in front of the barbershop.”
John Zorbas alleged that the SLA told him he was responsible for overseeing 100 feet “in both directions of my small business,” which has a storefront just 17 feet wide.
“I cannot enforce Social Distancing on the Streets,” he wrote.
“The SLA took my life away.”
Zorbas released his statement through a newly formed group, Hospitality Cares USA, that on Tuesday called on Cuomo to issue issue one-time pardons for bars and restaurants accused of social-distancing violations amid their post-pandemic re-openings.
“We want the governor to understand that we’ve been hearing him for the last five months, and we understand what he wants,” the group’s chairman, Fernando Mateo, said during a news conference outside the SLA’s Harlem headquarters.
“But what he wants a lot of the times isn’t what the people want. The people are the ones that are violating and breaking all the rules and regulations that he is asking them not to break.”
Mateo, a controversial figure who also represents cabbies and bodega owners, said that bar and restaurant owners had “suffered millions — tens of millions — of dollars in losses” due to the coronavirus crisis and he accused Cuomo of “compounding it by adding millions of dollars of fines.”
An SLA spokesman said the allegation regarding the woman with the booze-filled SUV “appears to be someone illegally trafficking in the sale of alcoholic beverages.
“SLA has jurisdiction over licensed businesses — so this is a matter that would be handled by local law enforcement,” spokesman William Crowley said.
Neither the NYPD nor Cuomo’s office immediately returned requests for comment.
Cuomo, however, announced the suspension of 12 more liquor licenses for New York City bars, following the discovery this past weekend of “egregious violations” of his coronavirus-related executive orders.
The latest suspensions bring the total to 45, with each alleged violation punishable by maximum $10,000 fine.
Additional reporting by Bernadette Hogan and Craig McCarthy
Share this article:
Source: Read Full Article