Uptown waterfront party spot La Marina — whose owner was accused of bribing the mayor in a 2016 City Hall scandal — has again run into trouble with the State Liquor Authority. The state has labeled the restaurant a “safety risk” to the public and suspended its liquor license last week, the Post reports.
State Liquor Authority chairman Vincent Bradley said the outdoor Inwood restaurant poses a risk to its employees as well as the surrounding neighborhood, according to the Post. The state is working to permanently remove the venue’s license, according to Patch, which could prompt a closure. It’s the latest hiccup in a series of controversial scandals the restaurant has faced in recent years.
La Marina was at the center of a recent multi-agency raid — including the Department of Health, NYPD, and the State Liquor Authority — which found the restaurant was unsanitary, allowed underage drinking, and violated several liquor laws. The party and private event hotspot was ordered shut in July, but later reopened. Later in November, bar manager Christian Mendez was arrested for selling cocaine and other illegal drugs at the restaurant, according to the Post.
Update: Restaurant co-founder and hospitality lawyer Jerald Tenenbaum says most of the NYPD and health department violations from the July raid have been dismissed. “There are no overarching health and safety issues at La Marina,” he says. “This is about politics and not protecting the public.” La Marina is currently weighing its legal options, Tenenbaum says.
The restaurant, which actually operates on city property under a deal with the Department of Parks and Recreation, has been barred from hosting special events “until further notice,” the Post reports.
Despite its troubled history, the venue has managed to remain up and running. Some, like activist Geoffey Croft of the nonprofit group NYC Park Advocates, say that’s because the restaurant is co-owned by Fernando Mateo, who has political ties to the city, according to the Post. In 2016, Mateo — founder of the New York State Federation of Taxi Drivers — was involved in the City Hall corruption scandal when he tried to bribe Mayor Bill de Blasio with $19,000 to hire a female associate of his.
La Marina opened in 2012 with a seasonal, 15-year deal with the parks department. It operates from Memorial Day to September.