ALBANY — The state Liquor Authority has taken steps toward revoking the license of Dublin Deck, the Patchogue bar that created a stir when a video surfaced showing patrons packed, shoulder to shoulder, violating social distancing rules amid the pandemic.
The authority has sent a letter to the tavern owners outlining 12 state law violations, each serious enough to result in shuttering the River Avenue bar and grill.
Further, each violation could result in a $10,000 fine.
Three of the violations go beyond operational violations and alleged the bar owner has multiple business partners that weren’t listed on Dublin Deck’s liquor license.
If the state pulls Dublin Deck’s license, it would be toughest action taken against any bar or tavern so far for violating restrictions triggered by the pandemic. The authority has taken lesser action against 19 establishments and filed charges against others, a spokesman said.
Dublin Deck caught regulators’ eyes after videos posted on the Internet showed the bar jammed with customers on May 22, none appearing to wear face masks.
Suffolk County police responded to multiple 911 calls about the bar flouting business restrictions and social distancing rules enacted by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. Police didn’t issue any summonses.
But soon after, Cuomo’s top aide called the display “stupid” and the liquor authority launched an investigation.
In a letter dated May 29, the agency detailed a dozen transgressions, including violating Cuomo’s restrictions on congregating, serving on the premises and takeout/delivery practices.
Going further, the agency also cited Dublin Deck for altering its premises without prior permission, adding a stand-up bar and serving patrons on the sidewalk.
Finally, the agency said that although the establishment had at least four co-owners, only one, Frank Mills, had license privileges. Under state law, all business partners in a bar must be licensed.
The difference between canceling and revoking a liquor license is that the latter requires the owner to wait at least two years before reapplying.
Mills must respond to the violations by June 17. He didn’t immediately respond to a message left with a person at a separate business he operates.
After the May 22 incident, Mills told Newsday the crowding was the result of a sudden rainfall that caught people outside at a nearby marina.
"Everybody decided to run inside, out of the rain and they overwhelmed us,” Mills said. “It was that simple. It has never happened before, and it will never happen again.”