ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The New York State Liquor Authority has suspended the liquor license for the East End Tavern in Rochester for violating COVID-19 restrictions, and the bar’s owner has started a GoFundMe in an effort to raise money to help pay the fines.
According to the SLA database, the Charlotte Street bar’s license is currently inactive.
SLA officials say The East End Tavern is a “repeat offender” adding that the scene at the establishment “looked like a pre-pandemic bar scene.”
SLA officials detailed what led to the license suspension to News 8 Wednesday:
- On September 4, 2020, following community complaints, investigators with the state’s multi-agency task force conducted an inspection finding three employees, including the owner, working inside without facemasks.
- The licensee was charged with four violations on October 9, 2020. The licensee made a $1,500 conditional no contest offer to settle the charges; this offer was accepted by the SLA Board on March 31, 2021.
- Following additional complaints of overcrowding, lack of social distancing and patrons and employees without facial coverings, on April 3rd investigators from the State Liquor Authority arrived at the premises at approximately 10:15 PM observing a line of patrons waiting to enter. While investigators could not gain entry as both entrances to the premises were locked, investigators could see numerous individuals inside through the windows.
- Investigators returned to the premises at approximately 11:05 PM, past the statewide closing time, finding 12 patrons lined up outside waiting to enter, with the outside lights turned off and the blinds closed in an apparent attempt to appear closed; investigators contacted the Rochester Police Department (RPD) for assistance.
- Investigators and officers with the RPD entered the premises at approximately 11:20 PM, finding the premises approximately 75% full, with dozens of patrons mingling, drinking and walking throughout the premises, most without facial coverings, in addition to staff without facial coverings and no food being prepared or served at the time of the inspection.
- Investigators spoke with the owner, present at the time of the inspection, who acknowledged the violations and closed the premises for the evening without incident.
- On April 5th, the SLA Board voted unanimously to suspend the establishment’s liquor license to protect the health and safety of the community.
The GoFundMe’s, created by Boscarino, aims to raise $25,000 — less than $2,000 had been raised as of Wednesday afternoon.
“We have done everything we can to respect the state and county guidelines over the past year, but unfortunately, we have been closed due to a COVID violation indefinitely,” East End Tavern’s GoFundMe page says in part. “Our staff understands the seriousness of COVID 19 and how this pandemic has devastated so many of our East End Tavern families. Providing a safe and healthy establishment is very important to us and we have learned how we can improve to ensure you all feel safe within our walls.
SLA officials tell News 8:
- Suspension orders are served immediately and remain in effect indefinitely, with the maximum penalty including the permanent revocation of the license and fines of up to $10,000 per violation. Licensees subject to an emergency suspension are entitled to a prompt hearing before a SLA Administrative Law Judge.
- This licensee has until May 5th to respond to the charges; at this time the licensee has not responded to the charges.
- In lieu of a hearing, licensees may submit a Conditional No Contest (CNC) plea, which typically means paying a fine – under an agreement like this, the establishment would agree to not challenge the SLA’s charges if the Board accepts the offered penalty.
- Our goal is to protect public health, not collect fines or suspend licenses, and in an ideal world we would not issue a single violation because every bar and restaurant would comply with the state’s public health rules.
Officials from the East End Tavern have not immediately returned a request for comment.
Throughout the pandemic, the SLA has routinely released detailed reports of egregious business operations that resulted in licenses being suspended or revoked due to COVID-19 violations.
SLA officials discuss the East End Tavern violations in the first six minutes in the following video:
Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.