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Drunken Hookah Bar Patrons Terrorize Hell's Kitchen Street, Residents Say

By Mathew Katz | May 10, 2012 6:57am
The management at Horus Too said their bar is too tiny to cause a ruckus on a residential block, but neighbors say it's terrorized them for years.
The management at Horus Too said their bar is too tiny to cause a ruckus on a residential block, but neighbors say it's terrorized them for years.
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DNAinfo/Mathew Katz

HELL'S KITCHEN — Wild parties and rowdy drunk customers have neighbors of a popular hookah bar fuming.

Horus Too opened in 2009 in the center of a residential block of West 46th Street, between 9th and 10th avenues, as an offshoot of the popular East Village Hookah Bar. Its owners billed it as a low-key restaurant serving up hummus and falafel, Community Board 4 members said.

Instead, residents complain it's become a party spot from which drunken patrons spill into the street and vandalize property.  

Staffers at the neighboring 414 Hotel told CB4 on Tuesday that Horus Too revelers even tossed over and broke a $400 marble table.

"As a hotel, we encourage business in the city. But these people destroy our plants, they use our bench, they're hurting our business," said Sakina Al Karimi, the hotel's general manager.

Al Karimi discussed several incidents in front of her hotel, where rooms rent for an average $249 a night, including one when police were called on Sunday after a patron began to smash hotel property.

On New Year's Eve, one patron tossed over a $400 marble table and broke it, Al Karimi said. The rowdy customers even have her night staff scared for their safety.

"A lot of the patrons next door are drunk. They come outside and onto our property, and they destroy our property," she said.

"My concern is noise, but at this point, my concern is the safety and security of our guests and staff."

Al Karimi added that the Mediterranean restaurant's loud, late-night parties have prompted some of her hotel customers to ask for refunds and led to several negative reviews on hotel-booking websites.

Dozens of neighboring businesses and residents also spoke out against the bar at the meeting of CB4's Business Licenses and Permits Committee.

Neighbors said the bar has been a constant source of problems since it was granted a license to serve wine and beer in 2009. CB4 officials said Horus Too managers told them it would operate as a restaurant — with no hookahs and a midnight closing time.

The hookah joint now hosts loud, smokey parties until 4 a.m. nearly every weekend, residents said.

"They get groups of people, the crowd inside and outside, they get rowdy," said Scott Moy, who lives next door.

Moy said the constant smoke from the hookahs seeps into his apartment, forcing his family to keep their windows closed.

"When they first opened up, my eldest son started developing a cough," he said.

"We went away for a month and it went away — but we came back, and so the cough came back too."

The bar also had a run-in with the State Liquor Authority in December, when it was fined $2,500 for serving alcohol to a minor, according to SLA records.

The hookah bar's manager, who identified himself as Abdel, said that incident was a one-time lapse in judgment by a waitress who was fired immediately.

"This is a restaurant. There's no way this could be anything but a restaurant," he said.

Abdel said he has tried to work with neighbors. He said he's attended local block association meetings and even removed a speaker from one side of the tiny bar based on a request from a resident.

"I understand this is the middle of the block — these are my neighbors, where do you think I get my business from?" he said.

Horus Too is only allowed to serve wine and beer because it's directly across from St. Clement's Episcopal Church. But patrons and residents said it also sells Soju, a Korean beverage that is 25 percent alcohol — far stronger than regular wine or beer.

"They only have dirty house liquor," one reviewer wrote on Yelp.

"Soju is everywhere in New York," the bar's manager said. "It doesn't get people crazy."

CB4 members and residents are hoping to gather hundreds of complaints in a bid to convince the SLA not to renew the bar's liquor license when it comes up in August.

"We feel that this is an absolute bait and switch — which are three words that the SLA hates," said Paul Seres, co-chairman of the Business Licenses and Permits Committee.

"There seems to be a lot of evidence here that lets us go to the SLA and say ‘we’re done.’ "