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Brooklyn Paper: House of Yes gets liquor license suspended for flouting COVID-19 rules

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Call it House of No!

The beloved Bushwick nightclub House of Yes will close temporarily beginning Friday after state authorities suspended its liquor license for skirting COVID-19 regulations, its owners announced. 

“Unfortunately, our liquor license was suspended yesterday by the State Liquor Authority (SLA),” the owners wrote on an Aug. 28 Instagram post. “Therefore, we will be temporarily closed while we focus on doing everything in our power to work with the SLA in good faith to restore our license and reopen.⁠”

State investigators found the club’s outdoor dining area, located on the corner of Wyckoff Avenue and Jefferson Street, was not serving food itself, but rather offering food-to-order from a sister restaurant — thereby violating Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s July 16 rule requiring bars to serve food with every drink order, the owners said. 

“The latest safety guidelines mandated by the Governor require that food be served alongside alcohol at all bars, and we thought we were complying with these rules by offering food-to-order from our sister restaurant,” the Instagram post read. “Unfortunately we learned that this does not comply with the technical requirement of our license.⁠”

Officials also knocked the LGBTQ-friendly club for its loud music and for a few “individual people within [their] perimeter” who were not following proper safety guidelines.

The suspension comes as the state cracks down on bars and restaurants flouting coronavirus-related health orders. Last weekend alone, the State Liquor Authority conducted nearly 4,000 compliance checks and observed violations at 34 establishments across the state, officials announced. As of Aug. 24, authorities had suspended 162 liquor licenses statewide. 

More than two dozen bars and restaurants in Brooklyn have had their liquor licenses suspended for COVID-19 violations, including the popular French restaurant Bar Tabac, Crown Heights restaurant Izzy’s Fried Chicken, and Cobble Hill sports bar Union Grounds. 

Restaurant owners — who have also faced fines from the Department of Transportation for failing to comply with constantly shifting outdoor dining rules — say that some of Cuomo’s recent regulations are unnecessarily harsh. Two of the directives, issued in July, require bars to include food with every order and to only serve seated customers in an effort to minimize crowding.

One Manhattan restaurant owner began a petition in July calling on Cuomo to revoke his executive order forcing bars to serve food, arguing that the edict puts an unfair burden on the struggling businesses.

“The resulting mandate not only puts an onerous burden on bar owners, it has no bearing on safety or health,” read the petition, which has been signed by more than 5,000 people. “All super-spreader events have been about ventilation — or the lack thereof — and proximity, not what the people were ingesting.”

On its Instagram post, the owners of House of Yes implied that the guidelines are overly complicated and ever-changing, hurting restaurant operators who were trying to follow the law.  

“We tried our absolute best to follow all the guidelines dictated by 4 different agencies, and still somehow came up short,” they wrote.

The State Liquor Authority did not respond to a request for comment by press time. 

Brooklyn Paper