Murf’s Tavern Goes Up for Sale

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Murf's Tavern on Division Street in Sag Harbor.

Jay Hamel, the beleaguered owner of Murf’s Tavern, has put the venerable bar at 64 Division Street up for sale at a price of $3.5 million, broker Lee Minetree at Saunders & Associates real estate confirmed this week. Mr. Minetree said the listing had not been posted but would go public soon after an inventory and photo shoot could be completed this week.

Mr. Hamel declined to return a phone call on Monday. His mother, Mary Jane Hamel of Noyac, said by email that he had been advised not to comment by his lawyers.

Murf’s hasn’t had a good year. As a result of village police reports about disturbances inside and just outside the bar in July 2017 and March 2018, the State Liquor Authority initiated two “proceedings to cancel or revoke” the liquor license of Mr. Hamel’s Division Street Tavern Corp.

Mr. Hamel settled those cases by pleading no contest; agreeing to close at 2 a.m., two hours earlier than the state’s mandated 4 a.m. closing time; and belatedly paying a $10,000 fine only after the SLA began the process of revoking his liquor license.

Another revocation proceeding now pending before the SLA is a result of incidents reported by police on July 31, when a man complained he had been assaulted on the back patio. While police were there investigating, two other men, one an employee and the other a patron, got into a fight outside the bar on Division Street, police said.

A “notice of pleading” sent by the SLA to Mr. Hamel’s Division Street Tavern Corp on August 2 requires a response of either “no contest” or “not guilty” by August 15 to the charge that “the licensee suffered or permitted the licensed premises to become disorderly” in violation of the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Law.

A liquor license is not a part of the bar’s sale, Mr. Minetree confirmed. Any new owner is required to obtain a new license.

Mr. Hamel and a crowd of patrons, supporters and employees appeared before the Sag Harbor Village Board two months ago to protest the 2 a.m. early closing restriction. “If we lose the late-night scene … we’re losing the town’s history,” one said. A bartender charged that Murf’s hadn’t had any trouble for 30 years until Sag Harbor Village Police Chief Austin J. McGuire had taken command over the past two years.

The 2 a.m. closing “has nothing to do with us other than doing our job like we’re supposed to,” said Chief McGuire at the board meeting. He also told the group that the Village Board had nothing to do with the 2 a.m. restriction.

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Peter Boody is news editor of The Sag Harbor Express. Previously he was the editor of the Southampton Press for many years and also edited several other papers, including the Shelter Island Reporter and the East Hampton Press, of which he was founding editor. He was a regular correspondent for the New York Times Long Island section and wrote the novel “Thomas Jefferson, Rachel & Me.”