Volume 80, Number 30 | December 23 - 29, 2010
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933
People socializing on the sidewalk in front of Chi Chiz in June 2009.
Gay bar calls it quits, saying it was ‘targeted’
BY DUNCAN OSBORNE
A West Village bar that caters to a gay and transgender African-American clientele and was sued this year by the city and the State Liquor Authority will close within two weeks.
“Obviously, the economic impact of what’s been going on this year — we went over those numbers — it’s highly problematic,” said Thomas D. Shanahan, an attorney for Chi Chiz.
New York City brought a nuisance abatement lawsuit against Chi Chiz in March, charging the bar allowed four drug sales on its premises from July 2009 to January 2010.
Chi Chiz’s owners and its lawyers said police steered the drug dealers into the bar. The first three buys were from the same dealer, with those sales occurring over three months.
“We never had notice of that,” said Shanahan, referring to the first sale. “It was a setup.”
The fourth sale was from two dealers who met an undercover police officer at a Starbucks near Seventh Ave. and Grove St. Police said one of the dealers insisted they walk over and make the sale in Chi Chiz.
Beginning in September, the authority held four hearings and heard from 11 witnesses offered by the authority or Chi Chiz. The administrative law judge in that proceeding found for the agency, saying the bar allowed the drug sales and other “disorderly conduct.”
Were the three-member S.L.A. board that issues final rulings on such cases later to sustain that finding, it could cost the bar its liquor license, effectively closing the establishment.
Shanahan said even if Chi Chiz were able to keep its license and settle with the city, it appeared the police and West Village residents who have complained about the bar were not going to stop.
“These are small business people,” Shanahan said. “We can’t sustain this on a continuing basis, and we have no confidence that these officers or people like David Poster are going to go away.”
Poster, the president of the Christopher Street Patrol, a volunteer anticrime group, was one of two West Villagers who testified for the authority at the hearings.
“l just think that it was a problem bar,” Poster told Gay City News, The Villager’s sister newspaper. “I’m not happy about it, but I think they are getting what they deserve.”
Three Sixth Precinct senior officers testified about rowdiness on the sidewalk near Chi Chiz at the S.L.A. hearings.
On Dec. 16, Chi Chiz was scheduled for a final hearing in the nuisance abatement lawsuit and tried to settle with the city.
“The terms that they wanted were too onerous,” Shanahan said.
The bar will close and surrender its liquor license on Jan. 3.