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Joyce’s Tavern is the most popular restaurant on Staten Island.
Beloved Staten Island tavern loses liquor license days after suing over restaurant ban
Something smells rotten on Staten Island — and it’s not the old dump.
Residents believe the stench is coming from Albany.
By Dean Balsamini, The New York Post, September 19, 2020 |
The borough’s beloved Joyce’s Tavern — which has a heavy FDNY constituency — lost its liquor license following a “surprise, random” visit during a 9/11 fundraiser on Sept. 11 by State Liquor Authority (SLA) inspectors.
The Irish pub’s supporters say the raid was a political hit job, and that a new videotape will soon prove the bar and grill did nothing wrong — and could exonerate it as soon as this coming week.
Tavern backers believe the ill-timed raid was retaliation by Gov. Cuomo for a lawsuit filed just days earlier against him, as well as the city and Mayor de Blasio, by Joyce’s and other crippled Island restaurants demanding they be allowed to reopen.
About 900 Islanders outraged by the SLA takedown formed a GoFundMe defense fund that collected $66,000 in less than a week.
“Resistance to thugs like Cuomo and Communists like de Blasio is vital if we are to live in freedom,” said Frederick Martin, who chipped in $100.
The borough’s pols have also jumped into the fray.
State Sen. Andrew Lanza (R-SI) has been working behind the scenes to get the Cuomo administration to “correct the mistake made by the SLA,” sources said.
Lanza told The Post Friday, “This restaurant, for all intents and purposes, is closed down. It breaks my heart that government can’t fix a clear mistake.”
City Councilman Joe Borelli blasted Cuomo and de Blasio on Twitter for siccing the SLA on the 54-year-old gin mill. The GOP lawmaker, known for his sharp tweets attacking both Dems, noted the raid also came a day after he held a well-publicized book-signing on Joyce’s patio. “What a coincidence,” he said, that on the “very next night, the SLA goons come in for a surprise random inspection.”
The state denied the action was Cuomo’s revenge. An SLA spokesman told Joyce’s attorneys Lou Gelormino and Mark Fonte that the tavern was one of over 1,300 visited by inspectors Sept. 11.
The SLA contends the gin mill “violated the executive orders that have been in place for six months, by allowing at least 10 patrons to eat indoors.”
But the tavern contends the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation fundraiser that drew a large crowd was situated outdoors on a back patio. The only people inside, it says, were a party of eight, including two pregnant women, who were waiting for 45 minutes to be seated. They were invited inside to rest. No food was served and two glasses of water were given to the expecting moms. Co-owner Clare O’Toole was drinking a glass of wine.
The tavern’s lawyers said the SLA found the patio scene “fully compliant,” but wrote the bar up for the inside guests violating the ban on indoor drinking and dining.
The lawyers said they “have presented the SLA with evidence fully exonerating Joyce’s of any wrongdoing. Unfortunately, while we wait for the board of the SLA to meet next week, Joyce’s will still unjustly have their liquor license suspended.
“Sadly, the SLA choose 9/11 a day of unity, a day remembrance, a day when Joyce’s was hosting a charity event, to unjustifiably suspend their license.”
Gelormino and Fonte represent Joyce’s and other restaurants in their Sept. 8 lawsuit to jumpstart indoor dining in the Big Apple. Cuomo has since announced the prohibition will be lifted on Sept. 30.
While Joyce’s braces for its SLA hearing, restaurant owner Clare O’Toole said her family “is confident that when the SLA digests all the evidence they will quickly lift the suspension. We truly appreciate the outpouring of support we received and just want to get back to doing what we love, serving the Staten Island community.”
On Saturday morning, the restaurant and other Island eateries presented a check totaling over $25,000 to the Tunnel to Towers Foundation, the proceeds from the 9/11 fundraiser.
The story was first reported by the Staten Island Advance and NY1.
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