LOWER EAST SIDE — The State Liquor Authority has granted controversial hookah bar Mazaar Lounge a liquor license renewal despite overwhelming community opposition, instead hitting operators with $20,000 in fines for a host of violations against the bar as part of a plea deal.
The bar at 137 Essex St. — which has long had an unsavory local reputation for blasting music late at night and attracting unruly revelers — was saddled with 25 liquor law violations earlier this year after an NYPD raid, SLA inspections and complaints from the local community board.
But the SLA recently renewed the hated spot's liquor license for upwards of another year.
The long list of violations included snubbing fire safety regulations, allowing dancing despite not having a cabaret license, and a pattern of noise and disorder at the site, SLA records show.
Community Board 3 had penned a resolution imploring the SLA not to renew the spot's liquor license, which expired at the end of March, after neighbors lined up at a meeting to detail the conditions created by the bar, which included pulsating music at all hours and harassment from the patrons.
The board also noted the lounge shamelessly advertised free shot deals and dancing — both a violation of state liquor laws.
The NYPD then raided Mazaar after several drunken patrons attacked police officers outside the bar — that raid resulted in 21 violations alone.
The violations could have resulted in a termination of the liquor license — because this was the case, in accordance with state law, Mazaar was allowed to keep operating under the terms of its previous license while the pending charges were reviewed, according to an SLA spokesman.
Mazaar's case was then heard before the SLA full board June 21, when the operators were ordered to cough up $20,000 to cover all 25 of its violations as part of a plea deal, records show.
Its liquor license was renewed immediately, records show — the renewed license expires March 31, 2019.
A community activist who had opposed the license renewal said she was disappointed and shocked by the renewal given the host of violations and the conflict with police.
"Again, we are disappointed by the decision of the SLA to renew this license when there were such serious violations and in fact NYPD [officers] were injured," said Diem Boyd of the Lower East Side Dwellers, a community group opposing unruly bars in the neighborhood.
"This area is in complete chaos, anything goes here, and this proves again no one is taking care of this community at any level," she continued.
An SLA spokesman noted the hefty fine was a substantial penalty imposed after the agency investigated complaints from the community board.
"The Board reviewed the violations and decided to impose a substantial fine to adjudicate the charges; our Licensing Unit is not going to deny a renewal after the Board has voted to impose a fine unless there are additional serious pending charges (which in this instance there are not)," wrote SLA spokesman Bill Crowley in an email.
Community Board 3 declined to comment on the matter. Mazaar Lounge did not immediately return a request for comment.