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Queens Chronicle

Bikini bar liquor license denied

Racks in Astoria app. rejected, owners threaten all-nude bar

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Posted: Wednesday, July 3, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 10:42 am, Thu Jul 11, 2013.

On Tuesday afternoon the State Liquor Authority denied a liquor license application for Racks, a proposed bikini bar in Astoria.

The former pool hall of the same name, but probably a different connotation, at 19-26 Steinway St., does not violate any laws that would prevent it from obtaining the stamp of approval, but the SLA board does take into account community recommendations.

Racks’ dancers would have worn bikini tops and thongs and performed lap dances in the main area as well as in a VIP room.

Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas (D-Astoria), City Council candidate and Astoria resident Costa Constantinides and neighborhood activist Carol Scarano lead the charge against another bikini bar in the neighborhood since October.

They traveled to Albany and waited four hours to testify along with two would-be neighbors of Racks and a spokesman for Congressman Joe Crowley (D-Bronx, Queens).

“It’s our voices that have been heard over those business owners just interested in turning a profit,” Simotas said, adding that an additional bikini bar could lower property values and bring rowdy and sometimes dangerous patrons.

“Residents who have invested in this community don’t want to live by a bikini bar or strip club,” she said.

“I tip my hat to the State Liquor Authority for listening to our community and helping preserve the character of our neighborhood,” state Sen. Mike Gianaris (D-Astoria) said.

Racks’ lawyer Kerry Katsorhis of Ginsberg and Katsorhis did not return requests for comments.

In the past he has said “We just want to make a living.”

“Women or men — not nude, not exposed — are there to provide entertainment and provide a service in the legal sense. They are scantily clad, but they are clad,” Katsorhis said

In April Community Board 1 with a very slim margin of 17 to 15 voted to recommend the SLA deny the application.

Members voting with Racks pointed to the location, which is a desolate block surrounded by auto body shops. Likewise those against the bikini bar noted Junior High School 141 and a playground about two blocks away.

“This establishment, around the corner from a park, an elementary school, and a junior high school, would have done nothing but objectify women,” Constantinides said. “Our neighborhood’s businesses should reflect its values, and places like Racks represent the polar opposite of the Astoria values I knew growing up.”

CB 1 members who voted to allow the liquor license also worried Racks, if rejected, would turn into an all-nude juice bar like the formerly called Gypsy Rose Cabaret on 42-50 21 St.

“They threatened to do that after the hearing,” Simotas said. Establishments that don’t serve liquor can legally employ naked entertainers.

“We will fight that too,” Simotas said.

The SLA did not return requests for comment.

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