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Community Board Considers Closing Bars Early

A Harlem community board is mulling whether to ask bars, nightclubs and restaurants to stop serving liquor two hours before last call.

This week, Community Board 10 tabled a recommendation that would require establishments to stop serving liquor after 2 a.m. in order to get more information from its economic development committee, which proposed the rule.

"This is something that has been tabled by our full board," said the chair of Community Board 10, Henrietta Lyle. "It’s a recommendation from our economic development committee. A recommendation. They brought that to the full board. It's not under consideration at this time. We have tabled this issue pending information and better clarification."

Bars licensed to serve liquor in New York can do so as late as 4 a.m., according to the state Alcohol Beverage Control law.

Most restaurants and bars that apply for liquor licenses come to agreements with their respective community boards before applying, said a spokesperson for the New York State Liquor Authority, which is in charge of granting licenses to bars in the state.

Harlem bar owners said they didn't understand why the community board's economic development committee would support such a move.

"New York's a unique city," said Gareth Fagan, one of the owners of Harlem Tavern on Frederick Douglass Boulevard near 116th Street. "People work 24 hours a day. People want to be able to grab a drink on the way home or grab something to eat on the way home. And that's what made it great is that you'd be able to go into a diner or a restaurant and get a full meal at 1 a.m. or at 4 a.m. -- whatever the case may be."

He added that he hadn't heard of anyone who was in favor of the recommendation.

"I don't understand why one neighborhood would choose to close at 2 a.m. and another down the street would be allowed to open till 4 a.m.," he said. "I think it would be detrimental to the neighborhood."

Ousmane Keita, who is co-owner of Bier International, a beer garden at Frederick Douglass Blvd and 113th Street, said none of the people he'd talked to supported closing their tabs early.

"It's definitely not a good idea considering that this neighborhood is starting to boom," Keita said. "Some of our clients come in late just to have a drink and they don't want to be rushed."

The next general meeting of Community Board 10 will be held on Wednesday, January 4. The board's economic development committee meets next on Thursday, Jan. 12.

Community boards on the Upper West Side, in Hell's Kitchen and Bay Ridge, Brooklyn have recently opposed bar, restaurant and nightclub liquor licenses over noise, crowds and safety.