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Toku Modern Asian in Manhasset has liquor license suspended for COVID-19 violations

Lobster taco appetizer is prepared at Toku restaurant

Lobster taco appetizer is prepared at Toku restaurant on Northern Boulevard in Manhasset. Credit: Newsday/Jin Lee

You can still order the steamed cabbage rolls and miso black cod at Toku Modern Asian in Manhasset, but not the lychee martini or mandarin mojito. On Sept. 12, the restaurant’s liquor license was temporarily suspended by New York State for COVID-19 violations.

According to New York State Liquor Authority spokesman William Crowley, Toku received a visit on Sept. 5 by an undisclosed agent of the state’s multi-agency task force who noted that the bar inside was lined with patrons who were neither wearing masks nor maintaining social distance. On a follow-up visit Sept. 11, an agent counted 118 patrons inside (the legal capacity is 90) and 67 outside (legal capacity is 32). In addition, patrons were seated closer than 6 feet apart, were walking around without masks, were standing and ordering drinks with no food, and other violations. At a special meeting of the board of the SLA, the three members voted unanimously to suspend the liquor license.

Toku, which opened in 2007 in the Americana Manhasset shopping center, is one of seven upscale Long Island restaurants owned by brothers George and Gillis Poll. Gillis said that "this is our livelihood and we work hard to enforce the new rules, we’ve hired extra people to see that they do — but some people still refuse to follow them." He was disappointed that the restaurant was never given a warning. "They came in one day and the next day, they suspend our license."

Typically, said the SLA spokesman, a restaurant such as Toku that does not have a history of violations can reach a settlement, pay a fine and have the license reinstated. Gillis Poll said that Toku "immediately made all the necessary corrections" but that he does not know how long the reinstatement process will take. "It looks like you just have to go through the system," he said.

This summer, a number of Long Island establishments have had their liquor licenses suspended, including DOX in Island Park and Mio Post in Long Beach (reinstatements are pending for both, Crowley said) as well as EB Elliot's in Freeport, Blu Mar and 75 Main in Southampton, which have been reinstated.

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