Hookah Lounge Goes To Trial

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The Hookah Lounge in the Old Village, at the corner of Middle Neck Road and Wooleys Lane.
The Hookah Lounge in the Old Village, at the corner of Middle Neck Road and Wooleys Lane.

The Village of Great Neck’s anger and dissatisfaction with the way in which the Fountain Blue Hookah Lounge is being operated is being addressed by literally bringing the lounge to trial at the next Village meeting on Oct. 7.

In an Aug. 20 letter to the two companies associated with Fountain Blue, Great Neck Pavilion Associates, LLC and Fanous Restaurant Corporation, the village threatened sanctions including the revoking of the permit and asked them to appear to answer charges at last Tuesday’s meeting.

The August letter basically charged the Fountain Blue smoking lounge with making misrepresentations in regard to the way in which it intended to operate the lounge when it applied for its permit. The “trial” was postponed until the first meeting in October after a public discussion between attorneys Paul Bloom, representing Fanous Restaurant, and the Village’s Stephen Limmer. Moussa Yeroushalmi (a/k/a Mike Yerush) from Great Neck Pavilion only spoke briefly, agreeing that he had received the August 20th letter and confirming that he understood how the hearing at the next meeting would proceed.

But Limmer added a new issue that was not known when the Village sent its letter. “Yesterday I spoke with Franklin Englander in enforcement with the State Liquor Authority and he informed me that liquor cannot be sold at the present time on the premises at 435 Middle Neck Road because there is no liquor license for it,” Limmer revealed to Bloom.

“And it is my understanding…that liquor is being sold there and that will be an additional issue which will be discussed and raised at the hearing,” Limmer continued. “So, if your client has a license or can prove that he has a license then that would be helpful.” Limmer also stated that a license was issued to an adjacent restaurant but since that restaurant was no longer open, the license could not be used.

At the Hookah Lounge trial before the Old Village board of trustees, board members consider the issues. Pictured (l-r): trustees Norman Namdar and Jeff Bass; Mayor Ralph Kreitzman and Deputy Mayor Mitchell Beckerman.
At the Hookah Lounge trial before the Old Village board of trustees, board members consider the issues. Pictured (l-r): trustees Norman Namdar and Jeff Bass; Mayor Ralph Kreitzman and Deputy Mayor Mitchell Beckerman.

Bloom asked the Village to provide him with specific dates of the alleged violations, referring to the fact that the letter spoke only of general violations. Said Limmer, “They weren’t specified because it’s the board’s understanding that the violations were continuing violations and therefore no specific dates were given. If you have an objection to that then the Board will provide you with specific dates.”

In the letter the Village voiced its unhappiness over how the lounge was operating, saying that the lounge failed to be “quiet and sedate” and had broken its promise that “the music would not be loud.” The village also claimed that a full menu was being offered instead of what the owners had said would be “limited to sweets, coffee and tea.” The Village also feels that it was misled about how the interior would be laid out and that there were no indications that a stage would be included.

Limmer also expressed frustration over the inability of the Village’s building inspector to gain access. “He (village building inspector) drove by last night,” Limmer said. “There were some people there and then when he came back to go inside, the door was locked. He knocked on the door. No one answered although he heard music inside. So, we’d like the building inspector to be able to go back to see if any of these alleged violations are continuing and if he does see them continuing, I will apprise you of the dates and times when he was there and what he observed as well.”

Zoning Changes

In other Village business last week, another public hearing was held over the proposed zoning changes to the business district on Middle Neck Road to create a new multifamily district on that street and a new townhome district on Steamboat Road.
Residents asked questions and expressed concerns over incentives for builders, density of the townhouses, building heights and property setbacks. The Board of Trustees is still involved in ironing out specifics of detail and language.
“Chances are we can vote on the plan at the next meeting on Oct. 7, “Mayor Ralph Kreitzman said. “By that time we will have recommendations from the Nassau Planning Commission.” The plan was previously submitted to the Commission for consideration.

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