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LES Vegetarian Bar Loses Liquor License for Serving Burgers and Steaks

By Lisha Arino | April 22, 2015 7:44pm | Updated on April 24, 2015 4:56pm
 The State Liquor Authority canceled the Sixth Ward's liquor license on April 21 after it found the bar operating contrary to its application.
The State Liquor Authority canceled the Sixth Ward's liquor license on April 21 after it found the bar operating contrary to its application.
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DNAinfo/Lisha Arino

LOWER EAST SIDE — An Irish pub on Orchard Street lost its liquor license Tuesday after a state investigator found it was serving burgers and steaks — though it claimed to be an “upscale vegetarian restaurant,” records show.

The State Liquor Authority revoked the Sixth Ward’s liquor license and imposed a $1,000 fine for failing to notify the agency that the restaurant had changed its cuisine as required by law, according to an SLA document provided L.E.S. Dwellers, a neighborhood group critical of local bars. The SLA confirmed the authenticity of the document.

The Sixth Ward, located at 191 Orchard St., had applied for its liquor license as a vegetarian restaurant that would be open from 5:30 p.m. to midnight, records show. But when an inspector showed up unannounced in October 2014 at 1:50 a.m., he ordered a cheeseburger and noticed other meat items on the menu, the document said.

The bar also said in its original application that it would not play music, but the inspector spotted 30 to 40 people dancing inside, the document said. The bar was still open when he left at 3:15 a.m.

The Sixth Ward did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A sign on its window Wednesday afternoon said it was closed due to a “boiler issue.”

When the bar opened in 2006, it operated as a vegetarian restaurant, owner Edward Sheehan told the SLA, according to the document, but as business dropped off  a year later he began serving French and American cuisine and then changed the menu “American Grill/Pub fare” in 2008.

Sheehan told authorities he was unaware that he needed to inform the SLA about changes to the menu and the bar’s hours, records show. His attorney and managers dealt with day-to-day operations, he said at a hearing on the matter.

But Judge Nicholas DeCesare did not buy Sheehan’s excuse, according to his ruling.

“Sheehan’s lack of knowledge that notification of changes in Licensee’s method of operation had to be filed with the Authority cannot excuse the violations," he said.

The judge also ruled against the bar because of numerous building violations concerning its certificate of occupancy and an unauthorized glass-enclosed area in the backyard.

L.E.S. Dwellers praised the SLA’s decision. Members concerned about the bar’s noise began looking into its history and filed complaints to the Department of Buildings and the SLA, said Diem Boyd, the group’s founder and president.

“This is truly a victory for the community: After dozens of buildings violations and misrepresentations to the SLA by Sixth Ward, this decision will spare neighbors the raucous behavior and noise that comes from the unauthorized use of the backyard and disorderly, illegal operations overall just as Spring kicks into gear,” Boyd said in an email.