Nino Tristani, the new owner of Murf’s Backstreet Tavern in Sag Harbor, secured a liquor license from the State Liquor Authority late last month, allowing the bar to reopen later this spring. He offered to close the bar at 2 a.m. in order to appease concerns raised by Sag Harbor Village Police Chief Austin J. McGuire at the March 20 hearing.
Mr. Tristani purchased the 64 Division Street property and the business from Jay Hamel last fall for $3.1 million. Mr. Hamel, who purchased the historic bar from Tom “Murf” Murphy in 2007 for $850,000, put the 770-square-foot bar on the market for $3.5 million last summer after the SLA — responding to Sag Harbor Village Police reports about disturbances at the tavern — began proceedings to revoke Mr. Hamel’s liquor license. In May, in an effort to keep his license, Mr. Hamel agreed to close the bar at 2 a.m. and paid a fine of $10,000.
Chief McGuire, in an effort to keep the establishment closed after 2 a.m., attended the hearing on March 20.
“Murf’s Tavern has a long history in the village,” said Mr. McGuire. “It has a longstanding tradition of being a late-night place. Twenty-two years ago, when I was first a police officer in Sag Harbor, Sag Harbor was a vastly different place. Clubs and late-night establishments were more of the norm than the exception. I left and returned 18 and a half years later as chief and the dynamic of Sag Harbor has changed drastically. Although the village currently enjoys a robust tourist dinner crowd, most establishments close around midnight with one or two staying open until 2 a.m. on the weekends. Murf’s, however, continues to stay open until 4 a.m. and that comes with baggage. From late March 2010 to this date, we had 150 calls of service to Murf’s.”
Mr. McGuire said police were responding to reports of public urination, defecation, sex acts and drug use and added the number of service calls to Murf’s did not include many incidents that occurred elsewhere in the village that involved patrons that had recently left the tavern.
According to Mr. McGuire, when the bar began closing at 2 a.m., it made “a tremendous amount of difference in the number of calls to the establishment.
“Closing by 2 a.m. would be in line with other establishments in the village and would maintain the decorum found here,” he told the SLA.
Mr. Tristani’s attorney, Patrick DeLuca, said the minute his client became aware of the police department’s request for a 2 a.m. closure, he signed an affidavit confirming Murf’s would cease operations after that time. “My client purchased the building, so he is in this for the long run — this is not a hit and run application,” Mr. DeLuca told the SLA.
Mr. Tristani received approval for his liquor license, which will also allow him to have as many as two security guards on property, if necessary, on the weekends and allows for live, acoustic music in addition to the bar’s famed jukebox. Mr. Tristani will need a permit from the Village of Sag Harbor as well if he hopes to host live music at Murf’s.
Mr. Tristani, who lives in Staten Island but has a residence in East Hampton, is the co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of Five Star Carting, a waste management company based in New York City. He launched the business in 2003 with his brother, Anthony, as an expansion of Rapid Recycling, a paper recycling company founded by their father in 1971, according to the Five Star Carting website.