Long Island bar shut down over repeated social distancing violations

Dox bar Long Island
Photo credit Google Street View
By 1010 WINS

NEW YORK (1010 WINS) -- A bar in Nassau County had its liquor license suspended on Thursday after numerous social distancing violations were reported. 

The State Liquor Authority (SLA) voted to suspend the license of Dox, located at 10 Broadway in Island Park, after the fire marshal's reports, becoming the first on Long Island to do so.

The SLA board called out the fire marshal for not taking stricter action against the bar.

Dox bar is disputing the charges.

"This licensee received repeated warnings and chose to ignore them, causing an unnecessary and avoidable health risk to patrons, employees, and the community," SLA Chairman Vincent Bradley said . "Licensees who ignore these lifesaving protocols are not just jeopardizing their licenses, they're jeopardizing people's lives."

The SLA said over a month, Dox received five visits from the Nassau County Fire Marshal for overcrowding, noise, and no social distancing complaints.

On May 17, June 13, and June 19 the fire marshal gave the bar verbal warnings after a visit from inspectors. Written warnings were also issued June 20 and 26.

The bar was charged with 42 violations after fire marshal and SLA investigators visited the bar on June 27 and found 235 patrons on the bar's patio, which is only licensed to accommodate 42 people.

John Springer, a New York liquor license consultant representing Dox, contested the charges that were filed against the bar. He claims that Dox was given no warnings from the fire marshal, either verbal or written. He said they were given orders to remedy, which are normal for any bar or restaurant to receive.

"I think the liquor authority weaponized the fire marshal," Springer said. "Because the fire marshal was working with Dox."

Springer also said that the bar was approved by the Town of Hempstead Board of Zoning Appeals for seating for 42 people, but the 5,000 square feet space can hold much more.

He added that the bar was working to get its maximum occupancy sorted out with the board and the fire marshal.

"The SLA was quick to criticize the fire marshal, but the fire marshal was doing what they were supposed to: putting [the bar] in compliance," said Springer. "That's what the liquor authority should be doing: putting them into compliance, not closing them down. Not laying off 30 people who just went back to work."