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Hell's Kitchen Hookah Bar's Liquor License Renewed Despite Complaints

By Mathew Katz | August 6, 2012 1:00pm

HELL'S KITCHEN — A controversial hookah bar will live to smoke another day.

Despite overwhelming community opposition, Horus Too on West 46th Street will keep its doors open for another year after state officials failed to find proof of a multitude of accusations of poor conduct, records show.

Last month, Community Board 4 wrote a letter asking the State Liquor Authority not to renew the bar's wine and beer license, but extensive investigations could not find proof supporting any of the complaints, according to SLA records and board officials.

Neighbors claimed Horus Too's rowdy parties kept them up up all night, prompting dozens of meetings to discuss issues at the hookah hangout. 

According to CB4 staff, the SLA sent inspectors and the NYPD sent undercover officers to the bar, but could not find evidence of underage drinking, illegal tobacco use or use of an adjoining, unlicensed space — all complaints lodged by neighboring residents and businesses.

As a result, the organization felt it had no grounds to deny a renewal request, CB4 district manager Robert Benfatto said. Horus Too's new license lasts until the end of August 2013, according to SLA records. The bar was fined for allowing underage drinking in September but has not had a similar violation since, SLA records show.

The SLA did not immediately return a request for comment regarding the renewal.

"Makes me wonder if there's anyone who's concerned about the rights of the community," said a Scott Moy, a neighbor who led the charge against the license's renewal.

The owners of Horus Too, who also own several other hookah bars around the city, first approached Board 4 about the spot in 2009, promising not to have hookahs or a sidewalk patio and saying the bar's French doors would close at night.

"Each and every one of these stipulations have been violated since day one," read CB4's July 12 letter to the SLA requesting it deny the bar's license renewal application.

Horus Too amped up its legal defense against a potential shutdown earlier in the summer, when it hired Lamis Deek, a civil rights lawyer specializing in anti-Muslim discrimination cases, to defend its license.

Deek did not respond to requests for comment.