Two bars on Union Turnpike are seeking renewals of their liquor licenses, but nearby residents say they are not good neighbors and their uncertain futures remain in the hands of the State Liquor Authority.
Cheap Shots at 149-05 Union Turnpike in Kew Gardens Hills and Layla Hookah Lounge at 181-34 Union Turnpike in Fresh Meadows were both turned down for renewals by Community Board 8. The hookah bar was rejected last month and Cheap Shots in January, but both decisions are only advisory.
The more problematic of the two, according to the community board, is Cheap Shots. There was a shooting outside the bar in 2012 and neighbors complain of loud and lewd behavior from customers, public urination, littering, fighting and vomiting.
The 107th Precinct has made arrests there for robbery, gambling and underage drinking.
Speaking out against the renewal was Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows), who urged the community board to deny the license. “Cheap Shots has been a disruptive eyesore to our community for too long,” Lancman said. “There are certain rules that every establishment needs to abide by in order to be welcomed in the district. Neither I nor my constituents have seen those rules being respected.”
Although the liquor license expired on Feb. 28, the bar can remain open until the SLA makes its determination, which can take months.
Attempts to reach Cheap Shots owner Louis Abreu were not successful. He has said in the past that he has worked with the police to alleviate problems, including hiring additional security guards.
Martha Taylor, a CB 8 member and president of the Jamaica Estates Association, said she is concerned about the hookah lounge because patrons make noise, litter and leave empty bottles on residential lawns.
But the major offense, Taylor said, is that the lounge is located within 200 feet of a religious institution, Congregation Anshei Shalom, which is against state law. “When the SLA finds out that the owners knew about the synagogue, they will lose the liquor license,” she said.
Marie Adam-Ovide, CB 8 district manager, said several residents came out to the Liquor License Committee hearing to oppose the hookah lounge. One of them was John Albert, who shared his concerns about the place.
According to the CB 8 minutes of the hearing: “This bar has become a nuisance to the neighborhood. There is underage drinking both inside and outside the establishment. Bottles of liquor are thrown on our lawns,” Albert said.
He has also witnessed solicitation of prostitution, drug dealing and public urination. “This bar has turned our little corner in Jamaica Estates to a terrible place to live,” Albert added.
There is a chance that even if the liquor license is rejected, Layla might still be able to sell beer and wine. But one of the owners, Boris Isakov, told the Chronicle that he needs the full liquor license to operate.
“They want to revoke the liquor license,” Isakov said. “There will be a hearing but we don’t know when.”
Calls and emails to Bill Crowley, SLA spokesman in Albany, were not returned.