A popular bar on Freeport’s Nautical Mile recently got its liquor license back after it appealed a suspension sparked by patrons throwing bottles at police officers following a 50 Cent concert, officials said.
The New York State Liquor Authority (SLA) fined Bracco’s Clam & Oyster Bar $20,000 and forbade the restaurant from having DJs, live music, dancing or promoters and required it to stick to its midnight closing time. But, the bar owners signaled that they will apply to amend their license application to have live music again in time for the busy summer season when crowds return to waterfront Woodcleft Avenue.
“I’m taking full responsibility,” Michael Bracco, a co-owner of the bar, told the SLA board on Dec. 22. “There will never, ever be something like this down on the Nautical Mile ever again… We are gonna do everything by the book.”
The SLA charged Bracco’s with 27 violations following a string of incidents last summer, the most serious of which came after bar patrons threw bottles at Freeport village police officers who were arresting a drunken driver outside in the early morning hours of Aug. 7, 2016. Police, who have said they responded to dozens of calls at the bar last summer, referred the matter to the SLA.
That incident and ensuing melee came several hours after 50 Cent performed a 45-minute unauthorized show, in violation of the bar’s license, despite the fact that the rapper—best known for 2003 hit single “In Da Club”—was only supposed to be there to promote his Effen Vodka. Hours later, when police were making an arrest, patrons were still inside Bracco’s an hour after its state-mandated midnight closure time.
“I realize they probably didn’t know 50 Cent was gonna sing,” Vincent Bradley, SLA board chairman, said during the hearing on Bracco’s license. “But the problem is they did nothing to stop it. He got up there and sang and their response was, ‘Well what was I supposed to do?’ Well it’s your freaking restaurant!”
A lawyer for Bracco’s countered that many other bars on the Nautical Mile host live music during summer, that the patrons were filing out of the bar when the arrest occurred on the night of the melee and the officers were injured by tackling a fleeing suspect, not flying bottles.
The SLA dropped eight of the charges, such as failure to comply with maximum occupancy and adding an unauthorized bar. The SLA found eight others to be not sustained, including exposure of a female breast and exposure of genitals stemming from an incident in July. Among the 11 charges remaining were becoming a focal point of police attention, operating a disorderly premises and failure to conform with its license.
Bracco’s had been fined for some related charges in recent years. The bar’s owner blamed their previous attorney for not properly advising them of their requirements. They vowed to clean up their act and not be called before the SLA board again.
“This has just been a pattern of violations,” said SLA Commissioner Greeley Ford. “To have someone like 50 Cent there, I don’t know what you expect to happen. You know? Every time I hear that guy’s name it’s not associated with anything good.”