Huntington Station residents say they are concerned with local delis serving beer on premises because they believe it has led to an increase in public drunkenness.
“It’s a problem. That’s what bars are for,” Jim McGoldrick, a Huntington Station resident said. “It’s a disadvantage for bar owners. It’s not right.”
While he admits drinking in public is a problem in the area, Suffolk County Police 2nd Precinct Inspector Christopher Hatton refuted the notion that delis serving alcohol are leading to an increase in public inebriation.
“The department doesn’t have any evidence that it leads to public intoxication, and it is also not illegal,” Hatton said in a phone interview. “I don’t think it’s a link.”
Hatton said that there is a problem with public alcohol consumption, which is illegal, especially in the Depot Road area. But he hasn’t seen any connections between the delis in Huntington that serve liquor on premises and an increase in public intoxication.
At a 2nd Precinct meeting in South Huntington in early August, many community members complained that the alcohol these delis serve is leading to an increase in individuals who are publicly intoxicated. They also didn’t understand how these establishments could both sell and allow customers to consume liquor inside the store.
Residents said they have witnessed people who are highly intoxicated attempting to cross the street, something they fear could lead to traffic accidents.
“We have a handful of calls from residents who speak about it,” Assemblyman Chad A. Lupinacci (R-Melville) said in a phone interview. Groups like Huntington Matters, an anti-crime civic group in Huntington Station, have expressed concerns.
Lupinacci said that his office is keeping an eye on the issue, as well as keeping in touch with New York State Liquor Authority, the agency that handles all liquor licenses. He acknowledged that there are safety concerns associated with this issue.
“It’s definitely something to take into consideration, the safety concerns,” he said. “I do think it is something we need to make sure isn’t causing more problems or unintended problems.”
In order for serving beer on premises to be legal, a deli must apply for a specific type of liquor license.
According to Bill Crowley, director of public affairs for NYSLA, a deli needs to apply for an eating place beer license. This license allows beer drinking onsite and for beer to be sold for consumption off-premises, as long as food is prepared and served at the location as well.
This type of license runs for three years, and the fee to obtain one is $480, plus an additional $100 filing fee.
NYSLA keeps track of all establishments with liquor licenses.
“We have enforcements and we do investigations, both randomly and complaint-driven,” Crowley said. These investigations include underage sweeps and can sometimes require many follow-ups before anything is uncovered.
Some local establishments that ran into problems with NYSLA actually didn’t have an eating-place beer license. In both instances NYSLA was involved with, the license called into question was a grocery beer/wine product license. This license allows for off-premises selling of beer and “wine products,” which is a beverage that can’t contain more than 6 percent alcohol by volume — also known as wine coolers.
Quisqueya Deli on West Hills Road in Huntington Station applied for a grocery store license, which only permits for the sale of beer consumed off premises. However, in March, the business was fined $2,000 by the full board of NYSLA for allowing consumption on premises. In July, the board voted to cancel their license.
Phil Solages, the attorney representing Quisqueya Deli, said the business had no comment.
Sayed Deli & Coffee Shop on West Pulaski Road also has a grocery store license. However, the business was fined $3,500 for sale to a minor in April 2012. An attempt to interview a store official was unsuccessful.
The NYSLA Full Board votes on the penalty when an establishment is found abusing its license. Depending on the severity of the violation, a business could receive a fine or get the license permanently revoked.
Many delis in Huntington Station have an eating-place beer license and have received no violations, according to Crowley.
“I know there are delis in Huntington Station, along New York Avenue, that serve alcohol on premises,” Hatton said. “They basically turn into a bar, to watch sports games, but it’s not illegal as long as they’re serving food prepared there.”