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Patrons Defend Rego Park Bar After CB6 Votes Not to Renew Liquor License

 Despite incidents, customers and owners say Tropix is a safe and friendly place.
Patrons Defend Rego Park Bar After CB6 Votes Not to Renew Liquor License
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QUEENS — After Community Board 6 — citing numerous assaults and robberies — voted in April not to recommend renewal of a liquor license for Tropix Bar and Lounge in Rego Park, the venue’s longtime patrons are coming to the popular bar’s defense.

As of Friday, more than 150 patrons had written letters of support that the bar plans to present to the State Liquor Authority, the owners said.

“I come here all the time, I bring my mother here,” said Florin Lungu, 33, who grew up in the neighborhood and works at a commercial real estate management company.

"I’ve met a lot of friends here, and at any given time I can run into somebody that I know. I can hang out with them and laugh.”

He said he had never encountered a serious incident at the bar.

“I’ve seen arguments but the bouncers would escort them out,” he said. “With alcohol, people are who they are, that’s why you have security.”

The board voted against Tropix’s liquor license renewal last month, after Norman Leibowitz, chairman of the CB6 consumer affairs committee, complained that since the bar opened in 2004, it had amassed 43 different incidents that had required police involvement, including assaults and robberies.

Gary Taylor, one of the owners of Tropix Bar and Lounge, located at 95-32 Queens Blvd., across the street from the Rego Center shopping mall, said security is a high priority.

He said there are currently 16 cameras, including two that have been placed outside the bar.

Taylor said customers' IDs are scanned at the entrance and that patrons are also patted down.

The bar, he said, is planning to install another 16 cameras, including three more outside.

Taylor acknowledged that when he took over the place in 2004, there were many incidents. “At that time it wasn’t a good crowd at all, we had a lot of problems and a lot of fights; it took us time to clean it up,” he said. 

But since then the number of incidents, he said, had decreased, although he acknowledged that the occasional problems do occur.

For example, Taylor said, a group of intoxicated men came to the bar last year, but were not let in, leading to a fight with security guards, he said.

He also said that a couple of years ago, a thief was targeting the bar to steal women’s handbags. “With the help of our cameras and our scanner, we turned the information over to the police and they were able to catch that person,” he said.

Over the years, the owners said, the place has become a neighborhood bar that supported many charitable events, fundraisers and graffiti cleanups. They also said they donated $5,000 for school supplies and toys for kids from Far Rockaway after Hurricane Sandy.

Tropix, they said, hosts customers that belong to all age and ethnic groups.

Walter Russo, 78, said he comes to the bar about four times a week with his friend Ronda Gigman.

“We were looking for a place to go,” said Russo, adding that they like the food and drink specials. “It’s a place where everybody becomes your friend.”

Another customer, Elizabeth Tufarelli, 32, who works for an ambulance company, said she “would be devastated if Tropix closed,” because it is where she meets friends and organizes birthday parties.

John Hocevar, 54, a real estate broker who owns properties in the area, said he brings clients to Tropix, adding, “I feel comfortable bringing them here. I could not take them to a rowdy place.”

The final decision regarding the liquor license renewal will be made by the State Liquor Authority. The community board only serves in an advisory role.