State Yanks Another Southampton Restaurant’s Liquor License Over COVID Violations

Blu Mar. Independent/Benno Klandt

New York State has suspended Blu Mar’s liquor license, where investigators said pandemic-related executive orders were not being followed, underaged drinking took place and even some bar-top adult entertainment occurred.

Blu Mar, which is located at 136 Main Street in Southampton Village village, allegedly had multiple violations last weekend — the same weekend that SLA investigators and police said they observed multiple COVID-19 violations at 75 Main, which led to its liquor license being suspended. The two Southampton Village restaurants, both owned by Zach Erdem, are the only ones on the East End to receive emergency suspensions due to COVID-19.

On Friday, August 22, the state’s multi-agency task force and officers with the Suffolk County Sheriff’s office allegedly observed a line of patrons waiting to enter Blu Mar at about 6 p.m. They were “ignoring social distancing” and 11 patrons were standing and drinking on the patio, the governor’s office said.

Investigators returned one hour later to find several patrons standing around the bar. Multiple patrons and staff were also observed throughout the night without facial coverings, they said.

That same evening, an 18-year-old underage agent was able to purchase alcohol on two separate occasions without being asked for identification, according to the governor’s office.

Cuomo’s office called Blu Mar “a repeat offender,” saying police had previously found the restaurant operating as a nightclub on August 16. A DJ was playing music and patrons were dancing, not wearing face coverings and ignoring social distancing. An “exotic entertainer” was also dancing on top of the bar, investigators said. Blu Mar’s liquor license does not permit adult entertainment. 

Blu Mar’s liquor license suspension is one of 168 throughout the state where egregious violations have been found during the pandemic. State Liquor Authority Chairman Vincent Bradley, and Commissioner Lily Fan and Greeley Ford ordered the emergency suspension on Tuesday at a special, virtual meeting of the full board. 

“New Yorkers’ hard work is paying off, with the state maintaining an infection rate of less than 1% for over three weeks straight — but we must remain vigilant and continue to follow the guidelines that got us here or risk backsliding,” Cuomo said in a statement. “Compliance in higher-risk industries like bars and restaurants has been key to achieving this progress, and as today’s suspensions show, the state will hold bad actors who put public health in danger accountable. The vast majority of bar owners continue to take this public health emergency seriously, but my message to the small number who openly flout the rules is simple: we will not tolerate you putting yourselves, your customers, your employees, your neighbors, and our reopening at risk.”

The maximum penalty can include the permanent revocation of the license and fines of up to $10,000 per violation. Blu Mar is entitled to an expedited hearing before an SLA Administrative Law Judge.

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