With an eye toward fair legal practices — and a touch of the Christmas spirit — Community Board 1’s Financial District Committee did not stand in the way of a liquor license renewal at Cordato’s, a deli and bar at 94½ Greenwich St.
Cordato’s has three disciplinary charges pending against it, but the State Liquor Authority will not rule on them until Jan. 20. Without seeing evidence related to the charges, the Financial District Committee did not want to punish the bar.
“I’ve seen a lot of small businesses go down after Sept. 11,” said Ro Sheffe, chairperson of the Financial District Committee. “I don’t like the idea of shutting someone down based on allegations. And I’d hate to put someone out of work so close to Christmas.”
The charges against Cordato’s are: selling alcohol to a minor, having an unlicensed security guard and failing to display a warning sign about the effects of alcohol on pregnancy. The maximum penalty for each charge is a $10,000 fine and revocation of the license, said Mike Smith, spokesperson for the S.L.A.
Since the S.L.A. will not rule on the charges until after the bar’s liquor license expires at the end of the year, the agency will provisionally renew the license prior to the hearing, Smith said.
Francis Buscemi, a lawyer representing Cordato’s, said the charges are false, and even if they were true, Cordato’s would likely keep the license.
In his 29 years of representing bars, Buscemi said he’d seen “a lot worse charges against licensees without licenses being taken away.”
The Financial District Committee, whose opinion is advisory, usually does not weigh in on license renewals, but Cordato’s has attracted some controversy. Police have made several arrests for prostitution at the bar in the past, though owner Gerry Giakoumatos was never implicated.
The community board turned down the bar’s request for a cabaret license earlier this year after several residents said there was lap dancing there at night. The city Department of Consumer Affairs has not yet made a decision on the cabaret license, a spokesperson said.
Sheffe said he went to Cordato’s on a recent weeknight and saw no exotic dancing, just a sparse crowd of regulars. Bill Love, another board member, said he heard from an “impeccable source” that the bar does offer lap dances, but that was not a good enough reason to deny the renewal. The bar has not attracted noise or disturbance complaints from its neighbors.
The committee decided not to oppose the liquor license renewal.
Catherine McVay Hughes, a board member, had the last word at the Financial District Committee’s Tuesday meeting, saying the community should keep a close watch on Cordato’s.
“Let’s put the owner on alert that we’re paying attention,” she said.
— Julie Shapiro