Bill approves temporary liquor licenses for NYC eateries, would boost COVID recovery

ALBANY — Big Apple watering holes scored a big win Thursday night, after the Legislature passed a bill that will allow bars and restaurants to obtain a temporary liquor license while they await final approval from the state.

Right now, only eateries outside New York City can obtain the permit to sell alcohol within 30 days of submitting an application for a permanent license to the state Liquor Authority. 

It allows them to bypass an up to six-month waiting period while the agency reviews applications before granting a full, two-year license. 

The new law — if signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo — will remove rules that critics argue put city businesses at a disadvantage.

“Being told they have to wait six months to open up is ridiculous. They’ll have to miss the summer season, the holiday season. This is a discriminatory law,” said Andrew Rigie, CEO of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, a trade organization representing nightlife and restaurant venues across the five boroughs. 

Bartender Andy Bechtol makes cocktails to go
If Cuomo signs the bill into law, it will remove rules that critics argue put city businesses at a disadvantage.
Getty Images

“You can get a temporary license everywhere in the state of New York except New York City and with so many vacant restaurants and landlords looking to make deals, it is putting potential small business owners out of business.

“This is going to allow new small businesses to open much more quickly, which generates tax revenue for the City and State, puts people back to work and fills these vacant buildings,” he added.

One city restaurateur who complained about the difficulty of obtaining a temporary liquor license applauded the action in Albany.

“It’s fantastic. It’s a great day. Albany did the right thing,” said Daniel Abrams, co-owner of the Mermaid Inn in the East Village.

Customers dine outdoors at Fiddlesticks Bar
City restaurateurs applauded the action in Albany to make it possible to get a temporary liquor license.
Getty Images

He said the new law enabling him to get a temporary liquor license means he can reopen the Mermaid Inn in mid-July, instead of the end of the year.

Abrams also plans to open a new Mermaid Mexican restaurant in Greenwich Village in mid-August.

“Restaurants want to open and generate revenue for the city and put people back to work,” he said.

Abrams said the law requiring up to a six-month wait to obtain a liquor license for city eateries didn’t make sense, especially as restaurants outside the city are exempt.

“We need to be doing everything we can to encourage all of our state’s entrepreneurs in the hospitality industry to reopen their doors or start new businesses. I can’t imagine Governor Cuomo wouldn’t want to be a part of making that happen,” said bill sponsor state Sen. Jessica Ramos.

Liquor behind the bar
Industry experts have estimated about 5,000 restaurants and pubs have closed due to the pandemic.
Alamy Stock Photo

Cuomo included a version of the proposal in his 2021 State of the State address given in January, as part of his bid to reopen the state and spark economic activity following the coronavirus shutdowns that ravaged businesses over the last year.

But it was cut from the $212 billion state budget passed in April.

Industry experts have estimated as many as 5,000 restaurants and pubs have closed due to the pandemic, and it’s still unclear how many will reopen. 

A representative from Cuomo’s office did not respond to an immediate request for comment when contacted by The Post.

Metro | New York Post

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