Liquor Task Force Giving Restaurateurs the Shakes

Alcohol is the lifeblood of the restaurant business. (We would liked to have said wine, which sounds less vulgar, but you can't charge a 400 percent markup on that.) In light of the city's recent nightclub murders, and with a growing number of protests over bar-generated noise, the State Liquor Authority is taking a verrry close look at who's getting liquor licenses these days, and the hospitality business as a whole is getting nervous morning-shakes nervous. This fear seems increasingly well founded. Crain's reports that the SLA is now forming a "task force" to look into how licenses are issued. (Registration's required to read the article.) Even in areas like Queens, local politicians are calling for a tightening, if not an outright ban, on new permits. "The blockade of issuing licenses to bars has hurt the restaurant business too," Uovo owner Matt Hamilton told Eater in September, after his restaurant closed about a year into a license-less existence. The board is already so restrictive that before chocolate entrepreneur Richard Perl could open the Chocolat Michel Cluizel store in ABC Carpet & Home, he was forced to get a full liquor license in order to sell Kirsch-filled chocolate-covered cherries. Poor restaurateurs! They're as alcohol-dependent, in their own way, as a red-eyed grill man the morning after.