Harlem Liquor Store Owner's Husband Sold Alcohol to Minors, Officials Say
By Jeff Mays
HARLEM — The owner of a liquor store who was given the go-ahead to open across the street from a Harlem high school is married to a man who had a previous liquor license revoked for serving alcohol to minors in three separate incidents, state documents show.
Mimi Fisher, of Gramercy Park, won unanimous approval from the State Liquor Authority to open East River Wine and Liquor Discount at 302 Pleasant Ave. at East 116th Street after she promised to keep her husband Shane Doyle out of the business, which is located directly across the street from the Manhattan Center for Science and Mathematics High School.
The board went as far as to say that Fisher could lose her license if they found her husband inside the store, according to a recording on the SLA website.
Yet staffers admit Doyle — who lost one prior liquor license in NoHo and surrendered another on the Lower East Side for infractions including selling alcohol to minors — spends time in the Harlem store, even though staffers claim he has nothing to do with running the business.
"He has been in the store but he is not involved. He visits the store but he is not involved," manager Deodat Raj Kumar told DNAinfo.
"He's not involved," Fisher said when asked by DNAinfo.
In addition, concerned parents and community members say the State Liquor Authority violated state law that bans liquor licenses from being granted to businesses located less than 200 yards from high schools.
Critics say the liquor store is located 98 feet from the school's entrance. But the SLA said it measured a distance of more than 200 feet between entrances, officials said.
During the Jan. 19 hearing where the SLA approved East River Wine and Liquor's license, officials were concerned that Fisher was acting as a front for her husband because she had a full-time job and he would be operating the business. Doyle was originally listed as the manager of East River Wine and Liquor on the application, but has since been removed.
"His last liquor store license was canceled because he had three separate sales to minors," Commissioner Noreen Healey said on a video recording of the hearing. "It seemed like she was just going to be the front for him to come in and do it."
State Liquor Authority electronic records show that Doyle held at least two liquor licenses in the past decade, both of which are listed as inactive. One is a 2006 liquor store license for Noho Wine and Spirits at 1 Bleeker St. That store now appears to be closed.
The other is a tavern and wine license from 2007, which allowed him to serve wine and beer at the now-shuttered SIN-E nightclub at 148-150 Attorney Street on the Lower East Side. State Liquor Authority officials said Doyle voluntarily surrendered his tavern and wine license after he was cited for employing non-certified bouncers.
"Let's be realistic. She's got no background in the industry, he loses a license and next thing we know his wife has an epiphany and wants to own a liquor store and guess who's managing it," Chairman Dennis Rosen said during the Dec. 15 meeting, according to a video recording of the meeting on the SLA website.
"He knows we deny him a license so he's using his wife to get a liquor store," Rosen added.
The board unanimously approved Fischer's application with the unusual condition that Doyle not be involved in the liquor store, according to State Liquor Authority documents. Normally, applications are either approved or denied, with no conditions, State Liquor Authority officials said.
Fisher had to submit an affidavit saying her husband would not be involved in the running of the store. Fisher presented someone else who was going to manage the store and said she planned to quit her full-time job.
"You can't have your husband involved in this. I want to prohibit it," Healy added. At one point, she warned Fisher to make sure her husband "stays out of the store."
Crowley said the board took steps to protect the students at the high school.
"As a condition of approving the license, the board took the unusual step of barring Fisher's husband from being involved," said Crowley. "The husband of the applicant is not to be involved in the business in any way. We will stop by and do compliance and if we find him there she will lose her license and investment."
Fisher reiterated to DNAinfo on Tuesday that Doyle is not involved in the store.
Fisher added that everyone who buys alcohol at the Pleasant Avenue store must show identification even if they appear to be well above the legal age. An electronic age verification system has been ordered, staffers said.
"I do not want liquor sold to minors. That is very important to me," Fisher said.