Garifuna Music Promoters and The New York Alcoholic Beverage Control Law

Garifuna Music Promoters and The New York Alcoholic Beverage Control Law
By José Francisco Ávila

During the past three months, I have read various postings on social media, about Garifuna promoted events at various venues, which were disrupted or cancelled due to venue compliance issues with the State Liquor Authority and the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control. The most recent was posted last month and it read, “Liquor authority decided to inspect MJ FLOW Lounge today. They closed it down. Party for tonight has been canceled.”

These incidents led me to research various Garifuna event flyers posted on social media, to identify the venues used by Garifuna promoters. I was able to identify approximately thirty venues in the Bronx and then proceeded to search each one for compliance through the Public License Query on the State Liquor Authority’s website.

My research conclude that none of the venues are Garifuna owned, therefore, I need to educate the promoters and general public on what they need to know when renting a venue for their next event! The following information was compiled from the State Liquor Authority and the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control website, the New York State Liquor Authority Handbook for Retail Licensees and the New York State Liquor Authority 2015 Annual Report.

In 1934, New York State enacted Chapter 478, known as the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law, creating the State Liquor Authority and the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control. Chapter 478 was enacted by the Legislature to provide for “the protection, health, welfare and safety of the people of the State.” These principles are the core of the State Liquor Authority and the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control’s mission to this day. The responsibilities of the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control include:

Licensing

The State Liquor Authority is responsible for issuing licenses and permits to eligible applicants to allow them to manufacture, sell (at wholesale or retail), store and/or transport alcoholic beverages in this state.
Retailer licenses are divided between “on-premises” and “off-premises” licenses. Specifically:
On-Premises: licenses are issued to businesses such as restaurants and taverns that serve alcoholic beverages to be consumed at the establishment.
Off-premises beer licenses are issued to grocery and drug stores, while package stores are authorized to sell spirits and wine, or wine only.
Inspection of premises and Investigation of Licensees

The State Liquor Authority conducts unannounced undercover inspections as part of its investigation of a licensee.

The State Liquor Authority also participates in the MARCH (Multi-Agency Response to Community Hotspots) program in New York City with the Department of Buildings (DOB), the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and NY Fire Department (FDNY).

Disciplinary proceedings and hearings of Licenses

Licensees who violate the Rules of the Authority may be subject to a disciplinary proceeding. These proceedings are based on referrals from other law enforcement agencies or investigations conducted by the State Liquor Authority’s Enforcement Bureau. These referrals and investigations are reviewed by the State Liquor Authority’s Office of Counsel to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to charge a licensee with a violation of the Rules of the Authority.

If the licensee is found to have committed a violation, the State Liquor Authority can suspend, cancel or revoke the license, or it can also impose a fine.

Almost three decades since the tragic Happy Land Social Club fire, Garifuna nightlife promoters continue to deal with clubs with violations of buildings and fire codes, permitting, licensing, and approvals for nightlife businesses. It’s time for Garifuna promoters to practice Buyer beware by ensuring that they are confident with the integrity of the venues they rent to avoid disruption or cancellation of their events.

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