2 Hells Kitchen Eateries Lose Liquor License For COVID Violations

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HELL'S KITCHEN, NY — Two restaurants in Hell's Kitchen had their liquor licenses suspended by the state this week for violating rules intended to curb the spread of the coronavirus, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Friday.

Taqueria Diana on Ninth Avenue and Sushiva, also on Ninth, both had their licenses suspended by the New York State Liquor Authority after inspectors found unsafe conditions there earlier this month, the state said. They are among 33 restaurants and bars statewide being hit with suspensions this week.

A third restaurant, Kochi, on 10th Avenue, also had its license suspended, but it was later restored, following an apparent misunderstanding by the state, W42ST reported.

State investigators visited Taqueria Diana on Sept. 2, where they found five customers drinking indoors, violating the city's ban on indoor dining which has being in place since March. The customers, a bartender and a kitchen employee were not wearing face coverings, the state said.

The state called the Mexican restaurant and bar a "repeat offender," having previously been knocked for allowing indoor dining in July.

Inspectors visited Sushiva on Sept. 4, where they found six customers eating and drinking inside the Japanese restaurant. Its liquor license had only been issued three months earlier on June 1, the state said.

At Kochi, inspectors said on Sept. 7 found about 30 customers and servers inside the Korean restaurant, violating the indoor dining ban. They also reported about 20 customers eating and drinking directly outside the restaurant, breaking social distancing requirements.

But owner Sungchul Shim told W42ST that the restaurant had been closed that day for a private party, where attendees wore masks and did not drink. Their license was restored this week, W42ST reported.

The state has now suspended 201 liquor licenses during the pandemic began, part of a crackdown by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in which three violations would result in a restaurant being shut down by the state.

Businesses face fines as high as $10,000 or immediate suspension of their liquor license for violating COVID-19 regulations.

"New Yorkers have worked together to stop the spread of coronavirus — but with our infection rate hovering around 1 percent and the threat of a second wave on the horizon, we must double down on the successful strategies that have helped us over the last six months," Cuomo said in a statement.

Anna Quinn contributed to this report.

This article originally appeared on the Midtown-Hell's Kitchen Patch