New York City Police Department and other city officials are cracking down on Lower East Side bars to check for violations of city codes and regulations.
The latest round of inspections occurred last weekend, and the venues targeted included Tammany Hall, Boss Tweed’s, Leftfield, The Suffolk, Fat Baby, La Caverna, and Recoup Lounge.
The Multi-Agency Response to Community Hotspots, an organization run by the Criminal Justice Coordinator’s office, leads these inspections. MARCH is a project done in conjunction with the Department of Buildings, the Department of Environmental Protection, New York Fire Department and the State Liquor Authority.
Mayor Rudy Giuliani created MARCH in 1990, but this organization’s activity has increased by 35 percent since Mayor Michael Bloomberg took office. The recent inspections are a testament to the mayor’s rising investment in this organization.
Violations included failure to maintain emergency lights, watering down alcohol, not abiding by requirements to serve food and underage drinking. When contacted about the inspections, many bar owners chose not to comment.
Two restraining orders unrelated to the MARCH inspections were also served on Feb. 14 to the LES bars PKNY and Lolita. Police charged these establishments with serving alcohol to underage drinkers.
Matt Friedlander, general manager of Lolita, clarified that his bar did not serve alcohol to underage drinkers.
“What happened with us was a sting operation orchestrated by the NYPD,” he said. “We didn’t serve an underage guest, we served an underage auxiliary officer.”
According to Friedlander, an auxiliary officer is a police officer between the ages of 18 and 20 who is trained by the NYPD to avoid getting carded, enter bars and be served.
“Our procedure is to turn the underage drinker away. If they are using a fake ID, the fake ID is confiscated,” Friedlander said. “We are retraining our staff, we are going to have more of a security presence at the door and the parties that did serve the alcohol to the underage drinkers are no longer working here.”
Due to the pending court case resulting from this incident, Friedlander refrained from commenting on any further questions.
NYU students, of which approximately 7,000 are under 21 years of age, are within close proximity to LES bars. Because of this, the Office of Residential Life and Housing Services is quick to stress the seriousness with which underage drinking and the use of fake IDs are handled at NYU.
“At new student orientations, first floor meetings in the residence halls and meetings with individual schools, our public safety officers and Residence Life administrators consistently emphasize that use of fake IDs is illegal, and students, if caught, especially with fake drivers licenses, are liable for legal penalties,” said Philip Lentz, director of public affairs at NYU, in an email.
CAS freshman Kiyon Hahm does not believe the recent bar closings will have much affect on underage drinking, despite the possibility of beefed up security by LES bars.
“People are going to find a way no matter what, no matter how many restrictions you’re going to have,” he said.
A version of this article was published in the Monday, Feb. 25 print edition. Amanda Zambito is a contributing writer. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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