By Pierce O’Reilly
New York city police have sent a stern warning to bar owners that they mean business when it comes to underage drinking.
The latest sting occured in Riverdale, where officers from the 50th Precinct community policing unit and investigators from the State Liquor Authority spotted minors drinking alcohol in Tamanny Hall, an Irish-owned bar, on Jan 18, according to Tom McKeon, a spokeswoman for the liquor authority.
The bar, at West 242nd Street and Broadway, was handed a summary suspension of its license and the premises was padlocked. The owners, Patrick O’Brien and two partners, will offer a plea to the liquor authority on Feb. 21, McKeon said. If he pleads not guilty, a hearing date will be set and SLA will determine whether any fine should be assessed or the bar shut permanently.
Police confirmed that when the bar was investigated, half the patrons drinking alcohol were underage. Fifteen of them signed sworn affidavits saying that they were served alcohol there that night. Det. Luis Rodriguez said Tamanny Hall was a popular place with students from nearby Manhattan College and that officers had been watching it for some time.
"There have being a number of disturbances there in the last few months and we asked the owners to be very careful with underage drinking," Rodriguez said. "Obviously, they didn’t listen."
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Tamanny Hall is the third bar police have closed in the neighborhood. The Terminal Bar and Pinewoods Bar also got the boot.
"These places basically weren’t run properly," Rodriguez said. "We were called to a stabbing incident outside Tamanny Hall over the holidays and we warned the owners then as well to get their act together."
One resident said that she was delighted to see the police out on the streets and doing "a great job."
"Young kids are staggering home on the streets around here every weekend and I’ve no sympathy for bar owners that serve them drink," she said.
To combat underage drinking Manhattan College offers alcohol awareness workshops, an interactive CD-Rom and a non-alcohol evening event each week called "Thumpin’ Thursday," according to a school official.
The Echo was unable to contact the owners of Tamanny Hall for comment.