FORT GEORGE — An Uptown bar that has been the site of late-night fights and underage drinking received the local community board's support to renew its liquor license under an agreement that it close an hour earlier.
At Community Board 12's meeting on Tuesday, the full board voted in favor of Mia Sushi & Steakhouse’s application to renew its liquor license with the stipulation that the venue close at 3 a.m. rather than 4 a.m. for a six-month period.
Mia Sushi, at 1507 St. Nicholas Ave., was closed for 30 days in March as a result of late-night fights at the venue and due to four sales to underage customers that occurred in 2012, according to police and State Liquor Authority records.
At a meeting of the board’s licensing committee on Nov. 12, an officer from the 34th Precinct who deals with nightlife issues expressed concerns about the license because of assaults that have occurred at the venue in the early-morning hours. The precinct asked that the board consider a 2 a.m. rather than a 4 a.m. closing time for the bar.
“That strip on St. Nicholas has a lot of venues that stay open as late or later than 4 a.m., and it just adds to the chaos,” the officer said.
The officer noted that the business did cooperate with investigations into the assaults and acknowledged that the owner has made improvements since being shut down in March.
Mia’s owner, Angel Tejada, said that he paid a $12,000 fine to the SLA for the underage drinking violations. Since reopening, he said he hired more security guards and brought in a consulting company to monitor security at the venue and perform random ID checks to prevent underage drinking, although these steps were not required by the SLA.
Tejada argued against a 2 a.m. closing time suggested by police.
“It would put me at a great disadvantage to other venues that stay open on that strip to 4 a.m.,” he said. “That’s why I’ve hired a company to make sure that everything stays right and with the law.”
Tejada ultimately agreed to a 3 a.m. closing time that could be extended to 4 a.m. if the venue goes for another six months without any incidents.
However, some board members at the meeting questioned how much the early closing time would help.
“What is the magic about 3 o’clock?” asked board member Steve Simon. “We have a bad history here. I don’t see a big difference between 3 and 4.”
Other board members argued that the venue has had a clean record for the past six months and that reducing the hours of operation too much could have a negative impact on the bar's employees.
The board ultimately voted in favor of renewing the license with a 3 a.m. closing time. The applicant still must seek approval from the SLA.