EXCLUSIVE: Café Remy liquor license dries out

November 13, 2014 Meaghan McGoldrick
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The attempt by the restaurant replacing Café Remy to operate under the controversial Ridge restaurant’s old liquor license has ultimately proved unsuccessful.

On Tuesday, November 4 the State Liquor Authority (SLA) pulled the license which owners had attempted, in March, to transfer from Café Remy to Ridge Bar & Grill after Councilmember Vincent Gentile pushed for such a resolution.

“It’s very simple: I will not stand by as residents are held hostage by notorious establishments with little regard for the law,” said Gentile. “We are all partners in keeping our community safe and maintaining the quality of life that has made our neighborhood the best place in Brooklyn to raise a family. Unfortunately, Café Remy did not fit into that simple equation. I commend the State Liquor Authority for doing the right thing.”

Nor was Gentile alone in his opposition. After hearing repeated complaints from residents, Community Board 10 also overwhelmingly opposed the transfer, citing concerns that the new owner had no experience and the manager’s only experience was 10 months as an employee of Café Remy.

“Eight months ago, Café Remy was looking to transfer the application and the board voted to deny the new applicant because he didn’t have the right experience – especially with it being a large venue with such adverse history,” explained CB 10 District Manager Josephine Beckmann. “From there, the New York State Worker’s Compensation issued a stop-work order on Café Remy [Ridge Bar & Grill] as they were not up to date with their insurance and had outstanding penalties of $86,000.

“When Worker’s Compensation visited the site, they saw that Café Remy was already operating under a different name, under the person that applied for the transfer application, even though they were not given the license for that,” she went on. “On Tuesday, he went before the State Liquor Authority with a total of five violations.”

When the eatery was issued the stop-work order, Café Remy’s license went into safe-keeping where it stayed for five months, said Beckmann prompting Edwin Batiz, owner of Café Remy and holder of the license, to appear before the SLA in hopes of getting his license back.

When asked by members why he hadn’t just paid his fines, Batiz blamed the bank for mistakenly bouncing a check.

“[A few days later] I came in with a certified check from the same bank with a letter from them addressing the mistake,” he told the board. But from there on out, he said, Workman’s Comp wouldn’t hear his request to negotiate payment.

Errors aside, the SLA asked the licensee why it’s taken so long to pay the fines in the first place.

“He’s had the opportunity until this very moment to pay Worker’s Compensation [in full], for whatever reason they’re not interested [in making a deal] but he’s had that opportunity for months and months,” said a member of the SLA, then stating that the authority had no other choice but to revoke Batiz’s license entirely.

Bay Ridge residents are praising the SLA’s decision to revoke the license.

 “I am pleased that the input of the community and the advocacy of Councilman Gentile convinced the New York State Liquor Authority, after a fair hearing, to take decisive action and revoke the liquor license of Café Remy,” noted Ridgeite and CB 10 Chair Brian Kieran. “It was done because of its refusal to comply with various laws meant to safeguard the public and employees.  This is a victory for the fair administration of the law which is a victory for our community.”

According to the SLA, some of the establishment’s adverse history included one documented sale to a minor, improper notification of renewals, disorderly premises violations (altercation, assault, nuisance and failure to comply) and improper conduct relating to Worker’s Compensation payments.

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