Lawsuit on the Menu

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Forced to shut down

Restaurants, eateries, and bars in New York City are allegedly receiving less than fair or equal treatment by the New York State Liquor Authority (SLA).  While one establishment received a liquor license suspension after 30 warnings or violations, the liquor license for another restaurant was revoked after only one violation.  One of the restaurants that has been handed a liquor license suspension is fighting back, claiming the SLA conducted a hollow investigation and did not uphold the rules of due process.  The restaurant is Cloister Café, located in the East Village.

In the lawsuit, the Medieval-style establishment is asking for the SLA to remove the suspension until a proper investigation and hearing takes place.  In addition, Cloister Café is also seeking compensation for revenue it lost during the mandatory closing.  The suspension stems from reports of the Cloister Café holding “pandemic parties” for larger gatherings.  The people who attended were in close proximity to one another, which defied social distancing orders.  The SLA affirms that it conducted an appropriate inspection of the Cloister Café property on August 7that about 12:30 am.  Several instances of violations were witnessed by both the New York City Sheriff’s Office and New York State investigators.  One of the violations involves the broken curfew for outside dining, which ends at 11 pm.  The restaurant’s actions were determined to be a threat to the health of patrons and residents.

Despite this report, the Cloister Café is accusing the SLA of relying on an article published by the Gothamist, a website that highlights New York City news, events, and food.  The website provided a detailed account of the apparent parties that were hosted by the Cloister Café.  Shortly after that column was published, the restaurant’s liquor license was suspended. The Cloister Café does not only blame the Gothamist article, but also believes social media posts have served as catalysts to the suspension.