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These two North Shore restaurants respond after state temporarily suspends their liquor licenses

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Both Spiro’s Lounge of Rocky Point and Savino’s Hideaway of Mount Sinai had their liquor licenses temporarily yanked by New York state for COVID-19 safety infractions this month.

Inspectors visited each restaurant on Feb. 1 and cited each for having around double the number of patrons allowed, among other violations, leading to the suspension of the restaurants’ ability to serve alcoholic beverages.

Scroll down for responses from both restaurants.

Jay Ozdemir, manager at Spiro’s, released this statement to GreaterPorJeff regarding the violations:

“On a Saturday night at our busiest time, 6:30-7:00 p.m., SLA investigator walked in and counted 86 people. Our limit at 50 percent is 54 people. That includes people waiting at the door for their reservations and employees. On average, Saturday night we have four bartenders, a barback, six servers, two bussers, two managers and two hostesses. That alone is almost 20 people. And when it’s freezing cold outside it’s so hard to manage people to get outside to wait for their reservations. Plus 10 p.m. curfew (now 11pm) was making even harder.

That being said, the SLA is doing their best to protect people and we get it. We always took Covid-19 serious from beginning. We installed dividers at the bar, UV filtration system, and even closed the restaurant for 2 weeks, wasn’t mandatory, in November, when we had a positive case, to get everyone tested, sanitize the restaurant.

But again SLA is doing their job and now we even took more tables out, reduced our capacity, having less people working at the same time and will have a dedicated person at the door to count and manage people coming in and going out. A warning at first would be more fair than taking our license away for a month, it hurts everyone, especially people working really hard to make ends meet.”

Additionally, here’s a statement from Savino’s Hideaway, shared on its Facebook page.

“Savino’s Hideaway recognizes the threat of the COVID-19 virus on society and has prioritized the health and safety of our customers and employees.

As an essential entity designated by the state of New York, we chose to stay open to serve meals for the community at large; many of our customers especially the elderly, are counting on us to stay open because they do not have kitchens readily available.

We were honored to donate food throughout this pandemic to St. Charles, Mather, and Stony Brook Hospital as well as Hope House Ministries. The insurmountable task to re-employ our previous staff, proved almost impossible due to the threat that COVID posed to their health and safety.

We are proud that our staff has stated on numerous occasions that it’s an honor to be a server at Savino’s because their courage pails in comparison to the local doctors and nurses that have been fighting this insidious virus on the front lines.We try to remind the staff on a daily basis that Savino’s is a sanctuary for people to forget about some of their day to day problems, even if for a brief moment but unfortunately, the current toxic political climate has put management and the employees in perilous situations when we wish to remain neutral with respect to mask usage and current COVID regulations.

The sudden imposed 10pm shutdown rule without prior notice or explicit guidance from the state causes unbearable stress not only on our staff but the staff on all restaurants alike.

Most customers come home from work between 5 and 6 p.m. and then decide to go out to dinner between 7 and 9 p.m. This shutdown rule undoubtedly creates a bottleneck effect when customers decide to dine between these hours.

The matter get further complicated by walk-in traffic. There is absolutely NO WAY to determine walk- in traffic on a day to day basis in the restaurant business.As many of you are aware , many restaurants are closed for good or on the verge of closing.

On the week of Jan. 24 through Jan. 31, Savino’s Hideaway like many other restaurants in Suffolk county had been encouraged to participate in Restaurant Week to help stem some of the losses incurred during the pandemic.

The continuous advertisements on News12 and the local newspapers promoting this event encouraged customers to support their local favorite restaurant; because the restaurants were hard hit they added for the first time a special TAKE-OUT feature to even further the success of the event.

Customers who waited online for their takeout order at Savino’s, waited in close proximity to the bar which resulted in us being non-compliant with the State Liquor Authority. A representative from the SLA informed us that customers are to wait outside or inside their cars in order to be served.

We informed the representative that this was not possible as customers refused to wait in the freezing 25 degree weather, causing an increase of customers waiting in the lobby. Regardless of how the situation unfolded, as the owner and operator of Savino’s Hideaway, the onus is on us and we accept full responsibility for this occurrence and we will make sure that this doesn’t happen again.

We would like to thank our loyal customers and friends for their unconditional support. The outpouring of cards, emails and texts is greatly appreciated by the family and the entire staff at Savino’s.

We would especially like to thank Father Frank at Hope House Ministries for his generous card and for his support and we ask for his prayers and guidance for all of us during this difficult time.

Yours sincerely, The Savino Family”