Patchogue Mayor Paul Pontieri on Tuesday explained to GreaterPatchogue the motivations behind the village’s newly enacted ban on nightclubs around its Main Street.
On Monday night, the Village Board voted to no longer offer nightclub/cabaret licenses in the downtown. The only legally approved nightclub in the village is Stereo Garden, formerly The Emporium, which will see its license grandfathered-in, according to Pontieri.
But the legislation will also restrict existing restaurants from clearing tables and chairs in order to operate like clubs.
“This is an attempt at bringing us back to a level of normalcy,” Pontieri said. “We have a lot more activity on Main Street than we’d like after midnight and this is about stepping back, looking at things, and making them better.”
Unlike Stereo Garden, 89 North Music Venue has approves to operate as a music hall, not unlike Patchogue Theater for Performing Arts, Pontieri said.
“89 North only opens when there’s an event or when there’s a show on the stage,” Pontieri said. “Stereo Garden operates as a club, a bar and a restaurant.”
So what does that mean for the restaurants where people then party until the early morning hours?
The answer is simple, according to the mayor: They’re not allowed to deviate from their Planning Board-approved interior site plans. But that happens with the moving of tables and chairs, which also increases occupancy.
However, there’s nothing stopping a restaurant from hosting a band or DJ until 4 a.m., Pontieri did say.
“They’re still operating as a bar,” he said. “Everybody on Main Street has a [State Liquor Authority] license to operate as a bar or restaurant. A cabaret is a separate license.
“So we’re conferring with the SLA with their rules on licensing.”
He also said Suffolk Police, village public safety, even representatives with the ambulance company said the uptick in activity at nighttime in the village is posing health and safety issues, especially if it were to grow even further.
So, what happens next is enforcement.
“The [SCPD] lieutenant that spoke to us says the moving of any tables and chairs that’s not consistent with your plan will be considered a violation,” Pontieri said. “If [the restaurants] are moving things around to make more space, then they’re beginning to change the configuration.
“The bottom line is that’s an increase in occupancy and a change from an approved use.”
Top: Paul Pontieri file photo/GreaterPatchogue