The liquor license for a problematic hookah bar in Auburndale has been temporarily suspended by the State Liquor Authority (SLA) following a shootout on November 13 that left two people wounded.
Assemblyman Edward Braunstein and State Senator John Liu joined neighboring residents and business owners outside Kloud Tequila Grill and Hookah Lounged at 192-08 Northern Boulevard over the weekend to demand the bar be closed for good.
“Enough is enough,” Braunstein said. “This establishment does not belong in this neighborhood. We are well past time for conversation and taking small steps.”
Since the establishment first opened in May, there have been numerous complaints regarding health and safety violations, excessive noise, drag racing, public urination, public sex acts, littering, and the sale of alcohol to intoxicated patrons.
“CB 11 has been fielding complaints and dealing with the fallout from many quality of life disturbances from the bar known as Kloud Tequila Grill for months, and are outraged by the recent escalation of community violence that has spilled out of the establishment and into the neighborhood,” said Community Board 11 district manager Joseph Marziliano.
Police responded to calls of shots fired outside the bar on November 13,The 35-year-old manager was grazed in the head and a 29-year-old man who was shot several times in the legs.
“It was scary,” said one local resident who had been at home at the time of the shooting. “We were nervous to even go to the window.”
NYPD Investigators determined that the shooting followed an altercation after several people were denied entry to a private party.
Video surveillance footage recovered from the scene shows the chaos unfolding as patrons attempt to flee the premises. Police subsequently apprehended a 19-year-old male who was seen running through a nearby yard. He was reportedly found in proximity to a loaded firearm.
“The residents have had enough,” Liu said. “None of this would have occurred without this bar being here. That is why Kloud needs to be shut down. This place simply does not belong on this block.”
The SLA issued an emergency suspension of the business’s liquor license on November 18, prohibiting the sale or consumption of any alcohol on the premises.
“The SLA has zero-tolerance for bars where violence and disorder is a routine occurrence, threatening the safety of their neighborhoods and straining police resources,” said Chairman Vincent Bradley. “This emergency suspension should serve as a message that this agency will not hesitate to take immediate action when a bar poses a threat to public health and safety.”
Kloud Tequila Grill has 16 open violations. They include a charge for “availing” their liquor license to an unapproved owner who operated the bar under the name “Silk Hookah Lounge LLC.”
The SLA will also charge Kloud Tequila with violations of the New York State Clean Indoor Air Act, and multiple violations of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law, which include operating a disorderly premise, failure to supervise, and becoming the focal point of police attention.
Auburndale residents hope the temporary suspension turns permanent,
“While we are grateful for this temporary suspension, there were plenty of warning signs before the gun violence of last week,” said Auburndale Northern Association member Alexandra Han. “We urge the State Liquor Authority to continue to do the right thing by fully revoking Kloud’s liquor license.”
Following the press conference, Sal Khan, the bar’s owner told a local news outlet that in light of the emergency suspension, he is looking to transform the storefront into something different, promising that it won’t cause the same issues in the future.
“Most likely it’s going to be a restaurant without liquor,” he said. “Maybe like a burger-type joint or fast food.”
Liu said regardless of what changes are made at Kloud, the community will be keeping a close eye on the establishment.
“Any business that operates with such blatant disregard for their neighbors should take warning that our community won’t stand for it, and we will fight tooth and nail to make sure our neighborhoods are safe,”he said.