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Report: Cuomo Administration Pulls Liquor License From Tavern During 9/11 Fundraiser

Updated at 3:10 p.m. EDT Monday with comment from the State Liquor Authority.

A Staten Island tavern that is part of a lawsuit to reopen New York City’s establishments to full indoor operations has had its liquor license pulled by the New York State Liquor Authority, according to a new report.

The authority on Saturday voted to suspend the license of Joyce’s Tavern because of actions that took place Friday during a “Dine Out to Remember” fundraiser to support the Tunnels to Towers group, which funds remembrances of the 9/11 terrorist attacks during which New York’s World Trade Center was destroyed.

According to SILive, the Liquor Authority acted because 10 people were seated inside the tavern and they had been either eating or drinking or both. The city’s ban on indoor dining does not expire until Sept. 30.

The authority noted that the tavern had never had an issue in its previous five years of operations but pulled the license anyhow.

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Co-owner Joe O’Toole declined to comment on the situation, according to SILive, aside from saying, “Just want to say thank you to every one for the thoughts, comments, support and, as always, the community has our back as we always have theirs.”

The tavern will be open for takeout and delivery beginning Monday.

Attorneys Lou Gelormino and Mark Fonte, who represent Joyce’s Tavern as part of the Independent Restaurant Owners Association Rescue, said they were “concerned that Joyce’s might be targeted” after the group filed a lawsuit to force officials to allow resutrants and tavens to fully reopen.

“The OToole family operates their restaurant in a socially responsible manner and has followed every one of governor’s executive orders. We intend to vigorously defend their restaurant and more importantly their reputation. We will [be] speaking to the SLA this week and hope to resolve this matter quickly,” they said in a statement.

Do you think Joyce's Tavern was targeted for retaliation?

The closing touched off a firestorm of outrage, with many suggesting Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio and/or Gov. Andrew Cuomo were retaliating against the tavern owners.

“I don’t think it’s any coincidence that Joyce’s is being targeted within days of them leading a lawsuit to reopen indoor dining and if this is, indeed retaliation, the mayor and governor should be ashamed,” Republican congressional candidate Nicole Malliotakis tweeted.

Her Democratic opponent also spoke out against the move.

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“Over the weekend, the SLA revoked Joyce’s Tavern liquor license for raising money for the @tunnel2towers foundation. They were busy, but followed the rules. There was no warning – just an arbitrary and unpatriotic punishment. This must be reversed,” Rep. Max Rose tweeted.

Councilman Joe Borelli condemned the action as “a disgusting abuse of power by a sycophant governor hell-bent on overcompensating for sending Covid patients to nursing homes. Our neighborhood bar, the place that constantly has charity events, sponsors our Little League teams, gives back in so many ways is the latest victim. When will common sense return?”

“How do we accept this as normal?” he later posted on Twitter. “How do we let a neighborhood business that was giving back to our 9/11 families and first responders just get fined out of business. How does the SLA inspector sleep at night? How do Cuomo & de Blasio?”

The event during which the tavern was cited was conducted by 50 restaurants and taverns to support the Tunnels to Towers Foundation.

“As we approach September 11, the Tunnel to Towers Foundation is committed to ensuring all Americans NEVER FORGET the sacrifices made for us that day. We are doing all we can to honor the 2,977 lives lost 19 years ago through our ‘Towers of Light’ tribute and our September 11 memorial ceremony. It is so encouraging to see the small businesses in our community, the member restaurants of IROAR, stepping up to honor these souls in their own way, and we thank them for their support,” the foundation said in a statement prior to the event, according to SILive.

As some fumed, others acted.

“It’s time for us to give back to a family who has always given to us,” a GoFundMe page set up for the tavern said. “To know the O’Toole family is to love them. To know the O’Toole family is knowing what they stand for & believe in. Our country & the men & women that serve it, our first responders who serve the front line day in & day out & most importantly our community who they have never thought twice about helping in times of need. Now they need us.

“On September 11th 2020 Joyce’s tavern took part in the 1st Annual I.R.OAR. Fundraiser to benefit Tunnels to Towers donating a portion of the nights proceeds.  Joyce’s never hesitated even in the midst of a pandemic where business has been slashed to not only be a part of this but to headline it as well. Sadly no good deed goes unpunished.

“Later that evening SLA showed up revoking their liquor license, shuttering the business. No warnings, no slap on the wrist & for what, a few people who were seated inside drinking water while they waited for the very few tables they had outside.

“To think the city would send in the SLA on 9/11 to shutter a business who was supporting our first responders is mind-blowing. When do we say enough is enough?”

The fundraiser exceeded its goal of $40,000 within 16 hours of its creation.

William Crowley, director of public affairs for the State Liquor Authority, told The Western Journal that the idea that Joyce’s Tavern was targeted for retaliation was “baseless.”

“New Yorkers deserve the facts: this restaurant was one of over 1,300 visited by inspectors on Friday through random patrols of all five boroughs and Long Island, and they violated rules that have been in place for nearly six months by allowing at least ten patrons to eat indoors,” Crowley said in an email Monday. “On Friday, 99.7% of bars and restaurants visited by members of the state’s task force were complying with public health rules, and it is unfortunate this establishment chose not to.”

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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