MURRAY HILL — Hooters-esque restaurant chain Canz a Citi Roadhouse lined up its signature staff of buxom waitresses and well stocked bar for its high profile opening of a new Murray Hill location.
But its managers forgot one thing — the restaurant never obtained a valid liquor license.
Canz, which has locations in Astoria and Long Island in addition to the new bar on Third Avenue between East 27th and East 28th streets, opened for business around 4 p.m. on Friday.
An hour later, tables and barstools were filled with customers tossing back beers. Happy hour was in full swing, with domestic ale being served for just $3. Behind the bar, shelves were stocked with bottles of liquor.
Before the night was over, the revellers were joined by SLA officials, who showed up to address what Steven Ferraro, one of the owners of Canz a Citi International, called "some confusion" regarding the liquor license.
“All of that is being worked on, but it’s not something that I can give details on,” Ferraro said. “We’re working with them to do what is necessary and what has to be done.”
According to a spokesman for the SLA, the only active liquor license on file for Canz' new address at 380 Third Ave. is one that was issued to a restaurant called Choice Kitchen and Cocktails in 2006.
The authority has no record of a license transfer request, nor any notice that the business affiliated with the former license had changed its operating name, said SLA spokesman William Crowley.
Mark Thompson, chair of Community Board 6, said he contacted the SLA and the NYPD's 17th precinct Friday and asked them to look into the situation after learning of the liquor license issues.
Ferraro declined to give specifics on the situation, but said the confusion arose because of a discrepancy in ownership since the owners of the Canz a Citi brand do not own the physical Murray Hill location.
The restaurant is scheduled to have another meeting with the SLA on Tuesday, Ferraro said. But as of right now, the new location is allowed to remain open and to serve alcohol, he said.
“There’s not an issue. If it was an issue, we wouldn’t be able to do this and be open,” Ferraro said.
The SLA declined to comment on the status of the venue's liquor license and whether or not it is allowed to remain open at the moment, saying only that the agency is looking into the situation.
Last week, Ferraro confided in the New York Post that he and his team had tried to conceal the nature of their restaurant prior to opening.
“We wanted this to be a surprise to the neighborhood,” Ferraro told the Post. “We put up plywood before we started work and people only found out about us opening at this location yesterday when we put up the sign. It’s exciting.”
Ferraro told DNAinfo the covert operation was not an effort to hide their intentions from the community.
“That was more or less just from a marketing and brand perspective,” Ferraro said.
Ferraro said he was not involved in the logistics of opening the new location and declined to comment on issues related to Community Board 6 and whether his group went before the board's business affairs and street activities committee prior to opening.
Back in May, a company called Dubcork came before Community Board 6, proposing to open a “gastro pub” at 380 Third Ave, said Thompson, the board chair.
Ferraro said that Canz a Citi was not affiliated with that request.
The board’s business affairs and street activities committee opposed the application because the restaurateur refused to close at 2 a.m., preferring to remain open until the legally sanctioned 4 a.m.
Community Board 6 has routinely made their approval of a liquor license request contingent upon a 2 a.m. closing time as an effort to limit excessive noise and public drunkenness in the neighborhood.
After that meeting in May, no one has gone before the community board to apply for a liquor license at 380 Third Avenue, Thompson said.
The Post also reported that Yankees pitcher C.C. Sabathia is a partner in the new venture.