An East Village hotspot is fighting back after it was shut down for allegedly flouting COVID-19 regulations by hosting secret after-hours parties for teeming crowds.
Page Six is told that Cloister Café is suing the state liquor authority, claiming that it didn’t properly investigate the alleged violations — and just cribbed the claims from a media reports.
In a hearing on Aug. 7, the SLA claimed “illegal pandemic parties” were being held on the premises and to have observed “over 80 people inside, mingling, kissing, drinking.”
It also said that it didn’t see customers eating while drinking, which is now required and that receipts were “tampered with” to include fictional food purchases.
On Monday, the restaurant filed a suit against the SLA claiming the language used during the hearing was lifted verbatim from a Gothamist article which in turn relied on an Instagram post by self-styled social-distancing watchdog Kristina Alaniesse. The post mentioned Meatpacking club Provocateur was behind the party. Provocateur’s Mike Satsky and Brian Gefter have been working with owner Nick Drobenko on the property.
“Instead of investigating, the SLA decided to rely upon the Gothamist, which is hardly a legal treatiste,” Cloister’s lawyer Robert Garson told Page Six.
They believe the closure was “illegal, uninvestigated and uninformed based on a sole Instagram post.”
“The liquor authority are acting like … they’ve imposed a form of [martial law] that they’re not adhering to proper investigation,” Garson said. “There are lots of people hurting [in hospitality]. [Nick is] taking the fight, not for himself, but for them as well.”
Alaniesse had posted videos from inside Cloister, alleging that there was a “secret garden” located behind the restaurant where patrons partied from midnight to 5 a.m, “showing a blatant disregard for rules,” and “blatantly not adhering to dining curfew.” The club denies her claims.