A tipster and Orchard Street resident sent word that Gallery Bar was shut down by the NYPD on Friday night, telling Eater that "Finally, the worst, most poorly sound proofed club on the Lower East Side, seems, hopefully, doneski . . . A major NYPD operation shut it down around midnight on Friday, and it's been shuttered ever since."
We spoke with Gallery Bar owner Darren Rubell last night who confirmed the news, saying that the PD, as is their wont, got a court order declaring the bar a public nuisance on Friday afternoon. Then 15 to 20 uniformed officers walked into the bar early Friday evening and forced them to shut down right as the weekend was getting started, a severe loss of income for any operation and leaving Gallery Bar's 20 employees without a job for at least one week. Rubell says the bar has a court date on Wednesday afternoon and they are still figuring out if they are going to fight the charges or look to settle.
Rubell says that Gallery bar has been under investigation since September 2010, and the complaint includes four instances of an undercover and underage agent getting inside. Apparently these agents were once able to bribe a security guard to get inside, and also had a few instances of an undercover agent showing up at 7 PM and never getting carded, things that seem a bit weak to shut a business down.
Rubell believes that he may have been a target after he spoke up at a meeting last week between over 20 Lower East Side business owners and the local precinct. His main beef was that police enforcement of "problem bars" seems to ramp up from 0 to 60, with an end result of bars being shut down. He would rather see the police and local owners having an ongoing dialogue where problems can be addressed as they pop up. It's a novel idea, but it seems unlikely that the NYPD has the manpower to execute the concept. It also probably isn't their best use of time.
This new business group, known as the Businesses of the Lower East Side, is also looking at a collected response to matter. Rubell said that both Hi Fi and Common Ground went through the same thing last weekend, except the judge who gave the order to the NYPD in those cases did not force them to close. Gallery Bar was not so lucky.
So now the group will be in court on Wednesday and then have to deal with the SLA over the status of their license. We will keep you posted.
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