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Board smokes out hookah lounge liquor license

A view of downtown Farmingdale, which boasts more

A view of downtown Farmingdale, which boasts more than 125 stores and dozens of restaurants. It is also the location of the village's post office, Village Hall and several banks. (July 5, 2011) Credit: Alexi Knock

Farmingdale Village officials Monday denied a downtown hookah lounge the ability to serve alcohol in a vote as narrow as the one that last year permitted the business to open.

The village board voted, 3-2, against an amended permit that Mystique Gardens owners Maurice and Maged Eldeiry needed to secure a liquor license. The decision appealed to several residents who said the lounge wasn't consistent with Farmingdale's family-friendliness.

"Once they got their foot in the door, they said, 'Now let's open it up for drinking,' " said resident Joe Carosella, who added that he felt "duped" by the lounge's initial application.

The Conklin Street business' permit to operate was approved, 3-2, last July.

An attorney for the Eldeiry cousins, Thomas Abbate, of Woodbury, said a liquor license and a BYOB, or bring your own bottle, model was necessary because, "We are simply not making it from an economic perspective."

Patrons ages 21 and older would wear wristbands to differentiate them from 19- and 20-year-olds who can legally smoke but not drink, he said.

"I have no objection with these gentlemen having a bar," resident Joe Diurno said. "My objection is they can't create a paradox. They can't have drinking and 19-year-olds."

Former Mayor George Starkie, speaking as a member of the public, said the lounge should be given a chance to thrive and contribute to a village that is "rebuilding itself."

Trustee Cheryl Parisi agreed, voting in favor of the lounge, but said she was "disappointed" the owners were back to amend their permit.

Abbate said he and the Eldeirys were "stunned" by the vote and did not know if the business would survive.

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