Alleged COVID-19 violations, health hazards and an underage alcohol sale at Southampton Village mainstay

75 Main’s Liquor License Suspended

After several incidents of coronavirus-related health violations at 75 Main, the Southampton Village restaurant and bar was stripped of its license over the weekend.

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Monday that 75 Main was among 14 bars and restaurants to have its liquor license suspended during enforcement efforts this weekend where “egregious violations of pandemic-related executive orders” were found. 75 Main, a popular, longtime business in the heart of the village, is the only East End restaurant to have its license suspended amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

75 Main, which the Governor’s office called “a repeat offender,” was hit with a slew of charges, as investigators found “serious health hazards” at the business. A bartender also allegedly sold alcohol to an underage patron.

The state’s multi-agency task force, led by the State police and State Liquor Authority, conducted 3,964 compliance checks, documenting violations at 34 establishments statewide. Businesses found in violation of COVID-19 regulations face fines up to $10,000 per violation, but the SLA has the ability to immediately suspend liquor licenses for the most egregious violators.

“Over the last five months, New Yorkers have made great sacrifices to bend the curve, and today’s record-low infection rate shows that when we listen to science and take this virus seriously, we can make a difference. But too many bars and restaurants are still flouting rules in place to stop the spread and local governments need to step up — so we’ve beefed up enforcement with the state police and liquor authority to hold bad actors accountable,” Cuomo said in a statement. 

SLA investigators, Southampton Village police, Suffolk County police, and the Suffolk County Sheriff’s office visited 75 Main on Saturday night for a joint inspection at about 6 p.m. The officers saw a line of patrons waiting to enter the restaurant, ignoring social distancing guidelines and most were not wearing a face mask. Investigators claim they saw two bartenders and three servers also without facial coverings.

“About an hour later, investigators returned to find 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,” a press release from the governor’s office said.

There were also long lines at the restrooms, but no social distancing happening. Patrons were, again, seen without face coverings.

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

When the team of investigators returned at 11 p.m., and made their presence known, they saw two employees run to the kitchen to alert staff.

Investigators have identified 25 additional violations, including what they said are “serious health hazards,” and four criminal court summonses were issued.

The governor’s office also said that an 18-year-old working as an agent went undercover into 75 Main and was able to purchase alcohol on two separate occasions without being asked for identification.

“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,” Lauren DeFranco, a spokesperson for the restaurant said. “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.”

Zach Erdem, the principal in Z1 New York Inc., the premises name that holds the liquor license, declined to comment when reached by phone Monday afternoon.

A fire dancer performed at 75 Main on June 27. Independent/Jessica Mackin-Cipro

According to the governor, 75 Main has been in trouble with the SLA already this summer. Southampton Village police allegedly documented 75 patrons eating inside on June 13, before indoor dining was allowed on Long Island. State task force investigators also observed three employees without facial coverings on July 28. Charges from those previous incidents are still pending with the SLA.   

During the first “Southampton in the Streets” on June 27, when Main Street was closed down to allow for more outdoor dining, a crowd gathered outside of 75 Main to view a fire dancer’s performance. Some patrons did not wear masks and did not social distance. Southampton Village Mayor Jesse Warren said at the time that village officials had spoken to the proprietor and reached out to the governor’s office to ask for help on enforcement.

Late last month, when the Chainsmokers drive-in concert in Bridgehampton drew the ire of state officials, Cuomo also said he had sent a letter to Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman and the village mayor about behavior “ongoing and reoccurring that also violates the public health regulations.” Cuomo asked the town to help the village, since the village is located within the township.

“It’s two-fold,” Warren said. “We want to see businesses succeed. It’s unfortunate they were not complying,” he said by phone. “While it is unfortunate that the State liquor Authority had to get involved in order to address these violations, we look forward to the restaurant addressing all of the state’s concerns and reopening in a safe manner.”

“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,” Cuomo’s statement continued. “These establishments put the health of their staff, their patrons, and all New Yorkers at risk — and their actions are simply unacceptable.”

To date, 162 bars and restaurants statewide have lost the ability to serve alcohol by ignoring social distancing and other COVID-19 regulations. 

taylor@indyeastend.com