ALS suspends liquor license following violence at popular Saratoga bar

The New York State Liquor Authority has suspended the liquor license of a bar in downtown Saratoga Springs linked to several violent incidents.

Following a series of violent incidents late at night on Caroline Street, Gaffney’s had its liquor license temporarily suspended at an emergency meeting of the State Liquor Authority on Tuesday.

The suspension came a day after the city of Saratoga Springs ordered the bar closed after it rejected checks related to city permit fees.

Violence was reported as recently as May Dayst, when a person was stabbed in a fight that started inside the bar and migrated outside to the street. A city policeman was also injured in the incident.

Between January 2021 and March 2022, the police department had 65 case reports associated with Gaffney’s, in addition to numerous other calls related to violence in the city’s nightclub district.

SLA lawyer William Brennan called the bar a “clear and present danger” to the community.

“The behavior and business model of the licensee who apparently cannot control the violent behavior of its customers has already harmed the health, safety and well-being of the inhabitants of the area of ​​​​the license premises. Given this continued behavior, we ask that an emergency suspension order be required. »

Gaffney’s was already facing penalties related to prior violations even before Tuesday’s emergency meeting.

SLA General Counsel Gary Meyerhoff said hearings originally scheduled for late March have been rescheduled to May 5.and at the incumbent’s request, before another letter was received on Monday.

“We received a letter from the licensee’s attorney again asking to adjourn the hearing, apparently deaf to the fact that there was another stabbing this weekend,” Meyerhoff said.

In early March, days after the city’s police department described an incident in which three officers were arrested and three officers injured, Gaffney released a statement via public relations firm Relentless Awareness.

The police department linked the incident to the bar, which called the characterization “another public relations success.” The statement goes on to describe Gaffney’s as having been “a community partner and supported by our core security team and we refute the continued targeting of our establishment.”

Meyerhoff noted the response to Gaffney’s previous incidents before SLA on Tuesday.

“We have police reports showing the violence emerging from his home, and the suggestion that he is not responsible for this, it seems that may add to the inability of this license to do anything about it. correct the conduct, the operation that causes these incidents. They continue to suffer and allow this disorder.

Gaffney’s management softened their tone in a new statement released by Relentless Awareness on Wednesday afternoon. It reads:

“We respect and intend to comply with the suspension order. We will work with the State Liquor Authority and the City of Saratoga Springs to rectify this unfortunate situation in hopes of reopening as soon as possible.”

City of Saratoga Springs Public Safety Commissioner James Montagnino said the city has met with the landlords several times and Gaffney has outlined a plan to address community complaints.

“For example, they said they were going to start beating customers on entering. And that most recent incident involved the folding knife that was on the perpetrator’s person when he entered the establishment, so clearly , it failed,” Montagnino said. .

Todd Shimkus, president of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce, welcomes the suspension of ALS. Shimkus says the bar is not expected to reopen until the issues are resolved.

“We would like them to be open, but they have to be safe. And that’s what we need from all bars in our community. It’s an imperfect world, certainly, the business world out there. But you have to do your best. You must put the interest of the community first. You must make the safety of your employees and customers a top priority. Gaffney’s didn’t do that.

Meanwhile, Commissioner Montagnino said the city continues to look for ways to keep late-night visitors safe ahead of the peak summer tourist season, when the city’s population has more than doubled.

The Democrat, who earlier this year put in place a plan to redirect police resources to increase downtown patrols, also floated the idea of ​​closing Caroline Street to vehicles on certain occasions, such as when the streets are closed for special events.

“We’ve had mixed responses from some business owners on Caroline Street, and what we can try to do is sort of a test release on one or two special occasions in a small part downtown to test the idea of ​​cordoning off an area and making it a small safe zone,” Montagnino said.

Montganino said police overtime funding for downtown patrols had been increased and seven new recruits who graduated from the academy in July would be available to help.

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