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Huntington councilman: End alcohol sales at Melissa Restaurant

Huntington town board member Mark Cuthbertson calls for

Huntington town board member Mark Cuthbertson calls for the liquor license for Melissa Restaurant in Huntington Station to be revoked on Thursday, Nov. 3, 2016. Photo Credit: James Carbone

A Huntington town board member is demanding that the New York State Liquor Authority revoke the liquor license of a Huntington Station restaurant, citing continued violence at the location.

Mark Cuthbertson said a string of violent crimes have occurred at Melissa Restaurant at 1419 New York Ave. The latest incident happened Oct. 22, when a man fired gunshots in front of the restaurant. In March, a man was shot in the arm in the parking lot, and in 2014, a man was found stabbed to death behind the restaurant.

“This restaurant is a magnet for criminal activity and we wanted to point this out in advance of the SLA hearing,” Cuthbertson said after a news conference Thursday near the restaurant. “They have town code violations, a host of criminal activity that goes on there. Alcohol and this destination just don’t mix.”

Earlier this year the State Liquor Authority began proceedings to revoke the restaurant’s license over “serious” violations, said Bill Crowley, spokesman for the liquor authority.

Some of the violations include allowing the premises to become disorderly, allowing others to use its liquor license, and the sale of counterfeit or untaxed tobacco products, according to state documents.

The restaurant’s liquor license is valid until May 31, 2017.

A state liquor authority administrative judge in Mineola will continue to hear testimony Friday in the revocation matter.

Scott Lockwood, a North Babylon attorney representing the owners of the restaurant — Jose and Maria Bautista — said he and his clients are perplexed at why the state is targeting the restaurant’s license. The three will be at Friday’s hearing in an effort to keep the license, he said.

“Why now?” Lockwood asked. “What has changed in the last year to cause this to happen?”

Helen Bautista, who answered the phone at a number listed for Jose and Maria Bautista, and identified herself as a family member, said town officials are “picking on” the restaurant’s owners.

“It’s unfair that they are saying it’s the restaurant’s fault for all the crime in Huntington Station,” she said. “What does the business have to do with that?”

Cuthbertson, who was joined at the news conference by state and town lawmakers, police and community members, denied that claim.

“I am sure that the overwhelming majority of the clientele at the restaurant are law-abiding individuals,” he said. “However, their inability to control some of their patrons has turned this site into a public nuisance in the Huntington Station community.”

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