House of Yes Loses Liquor License for Violating COVID-19 Rules

House of Yes is closing down temporarily after losing its liquor license for violating COVID-19 rules.
Twitter/ HouseofYesNYC

The beloved Bushwick nightclub House of Yes has closed temporarily after state authorities suspended its liquor license for skirting COVID-19 regulations, its owners announced.

“Unfortunately, our liquor license was suspended yesterday by the State Liquor Authority (SLA),” the owners wrote in an Aug. 28 Instagram post. “Therefore, we will be temporarily closed while we focus on doing everything in our power to work with the SLA in good faith to restore our license and reopen.⁠”

House of Yes is a popular nightlife spot among queer New Yorkers and bills itself as a safe space free of judgment. In normal times, the space typically hosts a range of events ranging from performances to dance parties and more.

State investigators knocked the club’s outdoor dining area, located on the corner of Wyckoff Avenue and Jefferson Street, for offering food-to-order from a sister restaurant — violating Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s July 16 rule requiring bars to serve food with every drink order, the owners said.

“Unfortunately we learned that this does not comply with the technical requirement of our license,” the owners said.

Officials also penalized the club for its loud music and for a few “individual people within [its] perimeter” who were not following proper safety guidelines, according to the Instagram post.

The suspension comes as the state cracks down on bars and restaurants flouting coronavirus-related health orders. Last weekend alone, the State Liquor Authority conducted nearly 4,000 compliance checks and observed violations at 34 establishments across the state, officials announced. As of Aug. 24, authorities had suspended 162 liquor licenses statewide.

More than two dozen bars and restaurants in Brooklyn have had their liquor licenses suspended, including the popular French restaurant Bar Tabac, Crown Heights restaurant Izzy’s Fried Chicken, and Cobble Hill sports bar Union Grounds.

Restaurant owners — who have also faced fines from the Department of Transportation for failing to comply with constantly shifting outdoor dining rules — have slammed some of Cuomo’s recent regulations as unnecessarily harsh. Two of the directives, issued in July, require bars to include food with every order and to serve seated customers only in an effort to minimize crowding.

One Manhattan restaurant owner began a petition in July calling on Cuomo to revoke his executive order forcing bars to serve food, arguing that the edict puts an unfair burden on the struggling businesses.

“The resulting mandate not only puts an onerous burden on bar owners, it has no bearing on safety or health,” read the petition, which has been signed by more than 5,000 people. “All super-spreader events have been about ventilation — or the lack thereof — and proximity, not what the people were ingesting.”

On House of Yes’ Instagram post, its owners implied that the state’s unclear guidelines hurt restaurant operators who are trying to follow the law.

“We tried our absolute best to follow all the guidelines dictated by 4 different agencies, and still somehow came up short,” they wrote.

The State Liquor Authority did not respond to a request for comment by press time.

This story first appeared in Gay City News’ sister publication brooklynpaper.com. To sign up for the Gay City News email newsletter, visit gaycitynews.com/newsletter.

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