New York City’s famed White Horse Tavern has been shut down after being stripped of its liquor license for what state officials call “numerous” violations of coronavirus social-distancing rules.
The state Liquor Authority issued an emergency suspension order against the legendary Greenwich Village bar during a special meeting at which it was slapped with 30 citations on Wednesday.
“Despite numerous warnings, this licensee continued to recklessly violate protocols that have helped to dramatically slow the spread of the coronavirus throughout New York,” SLA Chairman Vincent Bradley said in a prepared statement.
“The SLA will not hesitate to take action against licensees who jeopardize lives and threaten the progress our state has made.”
The alleged offenses include an incident on Saturday, when cops found “large crowds directly outside the establishment, without masks or practicing social distancing” while celebrating the July 4 holiday, according to the SLA.
In addition, the NYPD said that cops repeatedly found as many as 100 patrons “gathered outside the tavern with an illegal bar set up and music blaring” on June 6, 9 and 13, the SLA said.
Each time, the owner or manager was warned that the situation violated an executive order issued by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and officers met with the owner to discuss the incidents on June 26, according to the SLA.
“Officials also observed an illegal wooden patio platform that extended dangerously out onto the street,” the SLA said.
But the very next day, cops responded to a 311 call and found about 100 people “drinking on the sidewalk and street directly in [front] of the bar, with the NYPD issuing a summons for disorderly premises,” the SLA said.
No one answered the phone at the White Horse on Thursday, but a message posted on its Facebook page says that it’s “temporarily closed for business.”
“We had multiple violations for over crowding on our sidewalk and street cafe that the city granted as a lifeline to help save local restaurants,” the message says.
“We are the first to admit we were overwhelmed with the demand and weren’t prepared with the staff to deal with the over crowding. We attempted to adapt and come up with solutions to keep our patrons and staff safe and still remain in business.”
The message also says it would be a “tragedy” if “our historic Tavern where Dylan Thomas sat, as did James Baldwin, Jack Kerouac, Bob Dylan, Jim Morrison etc is gasping its last breaths.”
“Nobody is above the law, we aren’t asking for special treatment. But I hope people realize that this new way of doing business was thrust upon us. There is no perfect way to deal with hundreds of people showing up out of the blue. We did our best and continued to try and work towards what was asked of us,” the message adds.