Crime / Government

Officials want juice bars monitored

Joe Hirsch

Community Board 2’s Liquor and Franchising committee chair Robert Crespo, flanked by elected officials and residents in front of Platinum Pleasures, was one of several speakers who called for new legislation to rein in juice bar strip clubs.

New law would subject strip club juice bars to community review

On May 7 elected officials told residents at a rally in front of Platinum Pleasures that they would push for legislation to demand oversight of so-called juice bars.

Critics say that strip clubs unable to get their liquor licenses get around the law by selling juice in the wee hours while strippers dance. They say that is what is happening at the Lafayette Ave. strip club, which a new owner bought in April and has become a flashpoint in Hunts Point’s battle to rid the neighborhood of topless bars.

“Clearly no one is coming here at 4 a.m. to buy a banana smoothie,” said State Senator Jeffrey Klein.

The new law would require the bars apply for a Class B license from the city’s Dept. of Consumer Affairs, which would certify them as strip clubs unlicensed to sell alcohol. Club owners would have to inform local community boards within five days and give the boards up to 45 days to respond.

The licenses would be valid for two years before owners would have to seek a renewal. In addition, bars would be required to close at 4 a.m., install cameras at all entrances and exits and hire licensed security guards.

Currently the law requires the bars to obtain a cabaret license only if three or more customers dance while food and drinks are served. There is no law regulating whether employees can dance—or whether they are clothed while doing so.

Assemblyman Marcos Crespo said the current loophole in the law “makes the city of New York look completely foolish,” adding that the clubs now “sell juice in the middle of the night so people can come with their own alcohol and spike their drinks.”

Community Board 2 members have long fought to rein in the clubs. The board’s district manager told residents that gun violence, solicitation and drunk driving long associated with the clubs have “put a strain on NYPD’s response time,” pointing out the bars “should be subject to a community review process.”

Robert Crespo, the chair of the board’s Liquor and Franchising committee, which was established last year, in part to bear down on strip clubs, said the neighborhood’s reputation as a hub of prostitution is outdated.

“HBO made a wrong impression of this community,” he said, referring to the infamous 1996 documentary Hookers at the Point, and added “luckily we were able to change it.”

 

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