Volume 76, Number 50 | May 9 -15, 2007

Le Souk is socked with closure

By Albert Amateau

Le Souk, the East Village club on Avenue B where hookahs are placed on the tables for smokers, got the hook recently from the State Liquor Authority.

The S.L.A. at its April 18 meeting found the club at 47 Avenue B guilty of three license violations out of 11 charges that included building code and fire violations, illegal hours of operation and being a center of police attention from 2003 until November 2006.

The agency suspended the club’s liquor license for 10 days and imposed a $12,000 fine. It was one of 34 license suspensions or revocations in the state ordered by the agency at its April 18 meeting.

For neighbors of Le Souk on the east side of Avenue B between E. Third and E. Fourth Sts., the suspension provided only a brief respite from a noisy nuisance. The popularity of the club is attributable in part to its permit that exempts it from the city’s no-smoking law.

“We’ve worked very hard on this issue keeping in touch with the S.L.A. about all the complaints we’ve received,” said Susan Stetzer, district manager of Community Board 3. “Ten days doesn’t seem like very much and it won’t be very long before they are open again. It was a big disappointment,” Stetzer said on April 30.

Crowd control is a constant worry at Le Souk, Stetzer said. Noisy patrons waiting to enter are held on the sidewalk behind a velvet rope.

“It creates crowds instead of controlling crowds,” Stetzer said.

The authority had suspended Le Souk’s liquor license for violations last August. Sam Jacob, one of the co-owners, told The Villager at the time that the closing “was just a mistake, paperwork.” Jacob said the club hadn’t received the S.L.A.’s violations in the mail, so the authority made a default judgment to close them.

At the end of last month, Jacob said the recent suspension was from violations three years ago.

“We have worked hard to get those things under control,” he said. But the S.L.A. decision last week cited violations as recent as November of last year.

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