Unlicensed Boozy Art Lounge Loses Fortune After Police Bust, Owner Says
WILLIAMSBURG — The owner of an art center that allowed patrons to bring their own booze to painting classes despite not having a liquor license says he's lost a fortune in potential business since cops busted his operation.
Kevin Tarasuck, owner of the Painting Lounge — which has venues in Williamsburg and in Union Square — said business has dried up since cops raided it in May.
"We lose business every day...It's been really, really frustrating," said Tarasuck, who said clients call each day and decline to book sessions when they learn the studio won't allow drinking anymore.
"Tens of thousands of dollars have been affected...People will buy tickets and later call back asking for refunds when they find out we're not BYOB."
In a note on the studios' website titled "OMG No More BYOB!!," the owner tells would-be boozy painters, "Though we are a small business here in Brooklyn, we are doing everything in our power to get this situation corrected as quickly as possible... The Painting Lounge family still believes in the fun, learning and social experience our classes provide and we do hope to see you there."
The studio, which was raided after the New York Daily News called authorities to ask about the spot's legality, now offers only regular painting lessons and is about to apply for its liquor license, Tarasuck said.
The venue was put on notice by the State Liquor Authority on May 28 that establishments with 20 or more people need bottle club licenses in order to allow people to bring in their own liquor, according to the venue and to state law.
Tarasuck said many repeat Painting Lounge customers found themselves so involved in their artistic creations they barely ended up drinking in the sessions.
"People get so caught up with their painting that they forget to drink," Tarasuck said. "But [alcohol] is something people think they need. It’s a draw to try something new...a replacement for going out for drinks with a friend."