State authorities suspect the liquor license at a Riverhead restaurant.

Can’t Get High At Hy Ting

Patrons won’t be getting their sake on at Hy Ting Restaurant in Riverhead any time soon. Last week, the State Liquor Authority issued an emergency suspension of the establishment’s liquor license, based on a raft of referrals from the Riverhead Town Police Department.

According to a release from the SLA outlining the action, RPD said the eatery “has become a focal point for police attention” since it changed ownership in September 2017. Within just four months, cops received a half dozen 911 calls related to disturbances at or outside the place, none of them made by the owner, manager, or an employee of the joint.

Based on the SLA’s take, workers at Hy Ting repeatedly tried to interfere with police efforts or downplay fights. Last month, a 911 call brought RPD to Hy Ting. A fight among patrons broke out in the establishment, then spilled outdoors. When police tried to enter the place to talk to the owner, “the licensee locked the door, walked away, and did not return or respond to repeated knocks or verbal requests by police,” the SLA said.

On February 24, cops deployed again, this time in response to a 911 about another fight. A woman involved told officers she was in a fight. When an officer entered Hy Ting, the bartender confronted him, telling him the argument was just a domestic disagreement.

Cops were called four additional times to the bar, with 911 alerts to altercations.

But that’s not all.

Further investigation revealed the manager is a convicted felon whose “substantial” rap sheet includes a conviction for felony assault with a firearm. He’s represented himself as the licensee and owner of the restaurant, has his name of the bank accounts and signs checks, but he’s not listed on the official document, the SLA said.

“Both the hiring of a felon and making a license available to an individual not listed on the license are serious violations of the ABC law,” a press release informs.

There’s more.

On March 19, SLA and RPD conducted a joint inspection of the West Main Street restaurant. They observed over 20 violations of ABC law, 36 health code violations, plus additional fire and safety violations. Three days later, officials charged the business with 48 violations on top of four charges that were already pending from a February 5 filing.

“This establishment has continuously burdened the Riverhead Police Department’s resources in the brief six months that it has been open for business,” said Christopher Riano, counsel to the SLA. “The manager, who has a criminal record of violent offenses, should not be involved in the premises, let along supervising this establishment.”

State agencies have the authority to summarily suspend licenses if they find public health, safety, or welfare concerns warrant emergency action. The licensee is entitled to an expedited administrative law hearing before a judge. The summary suspension will remain in effect until it’s either modified by the SLA or a reviewing court.

kmerrill@indyeastend.com