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State ban on temporary liquor licenses unfairly targets NYC

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On top of all the ways Gov. Andrew Cuomo has slammed New York City bars and eateries throughout the pandemic, many now trying to bounce back face an unfair state law that refuses them temporary liquor licenses available to every establishment elsewhere in the state.

A new or revived restaurant or bar outside the city can get a temporary liquor license within 30 days while the State Liquor Authority takes its typical four to six months to review the application — but not Big Apple ones.

In his 2021 State of the State speech, Cuomo said he’d squash the city exception “to enable businesses to begin earning revenue sooner” after a brutal year. But the move fell out of the state budget in negotiations with the Legislature.

“What’s the purpose of opening a restaurant without serving alcohol? If you can’t offer a glass of wine with the oysters, diners will go somewhere else,” Mermaid Inn co-owner Daniel Abrams told The Post. He closed the East Village seafood joint in September after 17 years, surrendering its liquor license as he thought it impossible to reopen post-pandemic. But after getting a better lease deal from his landlord and seeing the city start to come alive again, he changed his mind — but now must wait on the SLA, though alcohol sales account for 40 percent of restaurant revenues.

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Robert Bookman, attorney for the Mermaid Inn and the NYC Hospitality Alliance, says the law unfairly targets New Yorkers — and minorities. “A week doesn’t go by where I don’t hear from five restaurants that would open but for the lack of a liquor permit,” he told The Post. “We also have more women entrepreneurs, more minority business owners in New York City. This rule really has a discriminatory effect.”

This, after a full year of city eateries facing stricter seating limits than the rest of the state, as well as a special no-sitting-at-the-bar rule.

The Legislature’s looking at bills to fix the issue, but it’s already taken too long. State government needs to stop holding New York City back.

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