State Suspends 75 Main’s Liquor License For Violations Of COVID Guidelines

Staff set tables up in advance of the inaugural "Southampton in the Streets" event in June. KITTY MERRILL

The New York State Liquor Authority this weekend suspended the liquor license of 75 Main on Main Street in Southampton Village, following numerous violations of the state’s requirements for reopening following closures due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In recent weeks, Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced a doubling down of enforcement of social distancing and NY PAUSE executive orders. He convened a multi-agency task force that visited establishments throughout the metro area and on Long Island and has routinely reported on restaurants and bars found out of compliance and the subsequent suspension of their liquor licenses.

On Monday, August 24, 75 Main was among them.

The State Liquor Authority Board issued an emergency order of summary suspension on Saturday, August 22, after several visits to the popular bar and restaurant showed that it was not complying with state orders.

According to a release from the governor’s office, State Liquor Authority investigators and officers with the Suffolk County Police Department, the Southampton Village Police Department, and the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office conducted a joint inspection of the premises. At approximately 6 p.m. on Saturday, investigators observed a line of patrons waiting to enter the restaurant, ignoring social distancing, with most not wearing facial coverings. Investigators also observed two bartenders and three servers without facial coverings.

Returning an hour later, investigators found multiple employees and patrons standing, mingling and drinking around the bar without facial coverings, with several patrons from nearby tables wandering up to the bar to mingle and consume shots — in violation of the governor’s executive order prohibiting walk-up bar service. They also observed long lines at the restrooms without social distancing and with several patrons not wearing facial coverings.

At least 27 employees were working at the time of the inspection, the release continues, with none of them observed attempting to control the lines or prohibit patrons from consuming alcohol while standing near the bar.

When the joint inspection team entered the premises again at around 11 p.m., members saw two employees run to the kitchen to alert staff. Upon entering, investigators identified 25 additional violations — including serious health hazards — and four criminal court summonses were issued.

In addition, earlier in the evening, an 18-year-old underage agent was able to purchase alcohol on two separate occasions without being asked for identification, the release said.

The business is a repeat offender, with the Village of Southampton Police documenting 75 patrons eating inside on June 13, prior to indoor dining being allowed on Long Island, and investigators from the state task force observing three employees without facial coverings on July 28. Charges from both previous incidents are pending with the SLA.

Southampton Village business owners have reported repeated visits from the task force through July and August. The visits come in the wake of the governor’s calling out the Hamptons as a location rife with egregious violations of his executive orders.

Zach Erdem, owner of 75 Main, was lambasted following the inaugural evening of “Southampton in the Streets” in June. He’d set tables and sofas in the street and hired a belly dancer to entertain. The crowd that formed, dancing in the street, earned sharp criticism on social media.

Speaking to the press last month, after the event was canceled for a weekend and a wholesale enforcement crackdown targeted the village during the weekend of July 25, he said the people dancing in the street were not his customers, and he “got blamed.” He said he is visited two and three times a day by enforcement officials — the police, SLA or the SLA Task Force. On the weekends, they came three times per night, he said at the time.

“It’s good,” he said, expressing understanding for the need to make safety a priority.
On Monday night, Lauren DeFranco, a spokesperson for 75 Main released a statement: “75 Main has a zero tolerance policy for any violations of social distancing, mask requirements, or serving alcohol to anyone under the age of 21. We have terminated the personnel involved. We are working together with the State of New York to rectify this matter and have no greater priority than providing a safe environment for our patrons.”

The total number of liquor licenses suspended during the coronavirus pandemic topped 160, the release from the governor reported Monday. Last weekend, the state’s multi-agency task force conducted 3,964 compliance checks, documenting violations at 34 establishments. Businesses found in violation of COVID-19 regulations face fines up to $10,000 per violation, while egregious violations can result in the immediate suspension of a bar or restaurant’s liquor license.

Discussing the strides New York has made to flatten the COVID-19 curve, Mr. Cuomo said , in a statement, “Now is not the time to lose sight of our goal, and if compliance slips, all of the progress we’ve made over the last five months could be undermined. These establishments put the health of their staff, their patrons, and all New Yorkers at risk — and their actions are simply unacceptable.”