By Carol Tannenhauser
On Thursday, July 30th, the New York State Liquor Authority (SLA) suspended the liquor license of Hi-Life Bar & Grill, on 83rd Street and Amsterdam Avenue, for allegedly violating the dining-in ban still in effect in New York City due to the coronavirus.
“I’m still reeling,” said owner Earl Geer, in an email to WSR. “A half hour ago, reps from the SLA came with cops to shut our bar down. Last night, we were given a notice by an SLA rep for utilizing our sidewalk café atrium, with French doors open, to serve diners. This is a gray area, as it has a fixed roof.”
Geer said he was under the misunderstanding that when guidelines were modified to include street seating with solid overhead covering, i.e. tents, that seating in his cafe, with all doors open and plexiglass separating diners, was in compliance.
“We complied immediately on Wednesday night, but today we learned that the ‘Full Board’ voted and suspended a number of licenses, including ours. So much for three strikes,” he added.
The fine for the violation could be as much as $10,000, Eater said.
Geer emphasized that he is “very supportive of Governor Cuomo and all he has done to keep New York City safe,” and will always comply with city and state regulations. “While we would have appreciated a warning,” he said, “We apologize for the misunderstanding and any noncompliance.”
“I’m heartbroken,” said Upper West Sider and tipster Joe Mutz. “I’ve consumed more meals there than I can count.”
Until the matter is resolved, Hi-Life’s kitchen will remain open for outdoor dining and delivery, and they will offer complimentary watermelon-and-mint-infused water, ice teas and Arnold Palmers. Geer is calling this a “neighborhood booze cleanse.”
Earl wrote about the difficulties of operating a restaurant amid the pandemic here.
The staff of Hi-Life created a GoFundMe account to help with Hi-Life’s legal expenses and lost business. Click here to donate.