By Carla Zanoni
INWOOD — A former Inwood restaurant that closed down last year has been operating as an "illegal bottle club" that sells $80 bottles of alcohol and plays music for partygoers to dance into the early morning hours, police say.
The space at 65 Sherman Avenue that formerly housed the Arauaco Restaurant & Bar had its red velvet curtains drawn and a "closed" sign was placed in the window, on a recent visit by DNAinfo.
But a row of posters were propped up inside the windows beside the entrance advertising Friday and Saturday night parties where cases of beer go for $35 before midnight and $80 bottles of liquor are sold with hookah table service. There were no dates on the posters, but they appeared to be new and unfaded by the sun.
"It looks like the establishment is operating without a license," an NYPD officer from the 34th Precinct told a Community Board 12 economic development committee meeting on June 7, after describing spotting rows of beer and liquor inside the establishment and signs of active parties.
Messages left at the two phone numbers listed on the posters were unreturned and the phone number for the previous establishment, Arauaco Restaurant & Bar, is disconnected.
CB12’s economic development committee voted against recommending the liquor license application for during its meeting on June 7, but the full board will have a chance to vote on the measure during its Tuesday, June 28, general meeting.
Despite the alleged activity at night, two women who work at a hair salon next door during the day said they were unaware of any activity in the space.
"That place has been closed for months," Carolina Duarte, 28, said. "I think the cops are wrong."
But other locals said they see people routinely enter and exit the establishment and leave bottles of liquor on the sidewalk.
"I always thought they were private parties, but that's a lot of liquor for a small party," said Inwood resident Manny Homer, 23, who said he has seen parties in the restaurant space over the past several weeks as well as dozens of empty bottles are regularly thrown out in the trash on the street on Saturday and Sunday mornings.
"On the corner in the morning sometimes I see bottles of liquor," said nearby resident Beatrice Gomez, 27, said. "It’s a club, no doubt."