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Uncle Mike's in TriBeCa Closes After City Cites Bar for Underage Drinking

Uncle Mike's closed for good June 30, 2012.
Uncle Mike's closed for good June 30, 2012.
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Facebook/Uncle Mike's

TRIBECA — Months before it closed its doors for good last week, the city tried to shut down the rowdy bikini bar Uncle Mike's for a string of underage drinking violations, court records show.

After the Murray Street bar was caught serving minors three times in three years, the city deemed Uncle Mike's a "public nuisance" in March and said it ought to be shuttered immediately, according to court papers.

The bar finally closed for good on June 30 after failing to renew its liquor license. The venue was known for bikini-clad bartenders, live music and a construction worker clientele, and it also drew some complaints from local women, who said they felt uncomfortable walking through the crowds that gathered on the sidewalk.

It was not immediately clear whether the sudden closure of Uncle Mike's, first reported by Tribeca Citizen, was related to the city's lawsuit.

David McWater, the owner of Uncle Mike's and former chairman of the East Village/Lower East Side's Community Board 3, did not respond to a request for comment Thursday.

The city's lawsuit, filed in March, made the case that closing Uncle Mike's would be good for the community.

"[Uncle Mike's] should not be allowed to remain open even one more day," city lawyers said in the court documents. "The operators of 'Uncle Mike's' brazenly continue to allow such activity which endangers their patrons and the surrounding community. It is clear that a closing order is the only effective remedy to abate this serious public nuisance."

In a series of NYPD stings, undercover, underage officers bought alcohol at Uncle Mike's in September 2010, August 2011 and January 2012, according to city and State Liquor Authority records. The bar was fined $2,500 for the 2010 incident, while the other charges are still pending, the SLA said.

In May, McWater appeared before Community Board 1 to argue that his liquor license ought to be renewed, despite the underage-drinking violations and residents' concerns about bar patrons' behavior.

Suellen Epstein, a longtime Murray Street resident, said women in the neighborhood were tired of "getting leered at and jeered at" whenever they walked past Uncle Mike's, which sits next to the New York Dolls strip club.

"It's revolting to walk past your establishment," Epstein told McWater in May.

He replied that he was embarrassed by the community's complaints and promised to take a more active role in the bar's day-to-day operations. The community board did not oppose the license renewal at the time.

Just more than a month later, on the afternoon of June 30, Uncle Mike's put out a chalkboard sign that read "BAR CLOSING LAST DAY TO PARTY!" The next morning the venue closed for good, neighbors said.

The abrupt closure pleased some residents of the block but surprised the bar's fans, who took to Facebook to express their dismay.

"Oh nooooo! :( " Susana Guerra posted on the bar's Facebook page June 30.

Alecia Alie Light, who identified herself as a former manger of the bar, was also upset.

"i am beyond devastated, and i dont know what happened either," she wrote. "im angry, sad, and stunned."

But the Uncle Mike's space won't stay empty for long.

A company called Delboys NYC LLC is applying for a new liquor license there and is scheduled to present its plans to Community Board 1's Tribeca Committee July 11.

A lawyer representing Delboys NYC did not immediately return a call for comment.