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Dancing and Free Shots Must Stop, Board Tells Hookah Bar Mazaar Lounge

By Allegra Hobbs | February 9, 2017 1:49pm | Updated on February 14, 2017 5:57pm
 Mazaar Lounge is located at 137 Essex St.
Mazaar Lounge is located at 137 Essex St.
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DNAinfo/Allegra Hobbs

LOWER EAST SIDE — A local liquor licensing committee shot down a controversial hookah bar’s bid for a renewal of its permit to serve booze, noting the bar seemed to flout liquor laws with free shots and dancing while blasting music at all hours and shirking complaints from neighbors.

Mazaar Lounge’s social media accounts are overflowing with advertisements pledging free shots for ladies and patrons raving about dancing the night away in the 137 Essex St. bar – but that kind of revelry isn’t allowed, Community Board 3’s State Liquor Authority subcommittee said.

“There is clearly dancing because your patrons talk about going there to dance — the dancing has to stop,” said subcommittee chair Alex Militano, noting the bar does not have a cabaret license, which would permit dancing.

The lounge’s “Around the Hour Free Shots for ladies” — as advertised on Mazaar’s Facebook page — has to stop too, said the committee. State liquor law prohibits giving away free drinks.

Aside from the dancing and drink specials, neighbors said they were disturbed by blasting music and rowdy crowds, and that the proprietors had not moved to address the problems.

“Imagine the noisiest bar you’ve ever been in, and then imagine that being in the apartment below you,” Natan Wise, who lives directly above the bar, told DNAinfo New York.

“They’re so unbelievably, ridiculously, egregiously loud...It’s when the DJ comes in and they have the air horns and the guy with the microphone.”

Wise said he had tried in vain to voice his complaints to one of the three operators, Sherif Beshir, but that he did nothing to alleviate the problem.

The stipulations attached to the bar’s original bid for a liquor license include immediately addressing resident complaints, committee officials said.

Fourteen locals came to Monday’s subcommittee hearing to urge the board to recommend the SLA deny the bar’s request for a liquor license renewal. Some said rowdy crowds from the bar pour onto the sidewalk unchecked.

“It is very uncomfortable of for me to go wait for cabs in the morning. I am a young girl who lives by herself,” said Melissa, who lives near the bar on Rivington Street and works off hours, often going to and from work in the early morning hours.

“The people who funnel out of your bar have zero regard for who I am, and that is a very uncomfortable feeling.”

Despite a stipulation requiring the bar provide adequate security to monitor the sidewalk crowds, several neighbors complained the security was not provided, Militano said. 

The bar also often lets parties carry on with an open facade — a violation of the stipulations agreed to when the lounge was first issued an approval. 

The committee listed the violations in a resolution recommending the SLA deny a license renewal — the recommendation is pending full board approval and is ultimately only advisory.

But local activists who have been around since the bar’s inception say the board itself is to blame for neighbors’ headaches — the community board in March 2014 gave the lounge the green light without a public hearing, Bowery Boogie reported.

“Unfortunately, this should have been publicly heard — because it wasn’t, the community is paying the price,” said Diem Boyd of the LES Dwellers, a group that combats unruly bars in the neighborhood.

Neighbors were told the bar’s application was considered a mere “corporate restructuring” because its operators had previously run a bar called Foundation Lounge in the same space and had no official violations from police or government agencies stacked against it. For these reasons, a public hearing wasn’t required.

A board member who was on the SLA subcommittee when the item was approved confirmed the account. Community board officials did not immediately return requests for comment on the matter.

The defunct Foundation Lounge had been a hell-raiser, said Boyd, who added that neighbors had complained to the community board about the operation, and should have merited public comment. It was shuttered in 2011 by the NYPD for overcrowding, underage drinking, and illegal sale of beverages, Bowery Boogie reported.

A lawyer for the bar, despite noting it may be difficult to stop patrons from dancing, assured committee members and neighbors the operator was committed to addressing complaints.

“What we are specifically prohibited from doing by stipulations, we’ll stop doing it,” said attorney Frank Palillo.