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Sound Fix Lounge, a popular music venue with a burgeoning underground comedy scene, is voluntarily closing its doors in late February or early March instead of fighting several pending charges of violations at an upcoming Liquor Control Board hearing.
Sound Fix owner and current licensee James Bradley, who acquired the bar, located at 10 Bedford Ave., in May 2007, appeared before a Liquor Control Board hearing this past December, pleading no contest to charges of submitting false statements regarding the methods of operation and hours open and pleading not guilty to a failure to include proper warning signage and comply with health regulations. Several other violations occurred under Fix Fix Inc.’s previous owner, Dane Atkinson, including a sale of alcohol to a minor, and Bradley has paid a $500 and fine and the venue has served a 15-day suspension of the liquor license, settling that matter.
“We had a hearing in December and a litany of charges were raised,” Bradley said. “According to my attorney, it was certain we would get our license revoked. If it gets revoked, it’s a serious offense. I was told it was a slam dunk they would take their license away.”
Instead of risking the revocation of his license, on the advice of his attorney, James is closing his venue. The music store will remain open, but several performances, including the well-regarded Wednesday night stand-up comedy showcase, will only run through the remainder of the month.
A spokesperson for The State Liquor Authority said that the venue is allowed to remain open and continue serving alcohol until the Liquor Control Board’s hearing, which has not been scheduled. Each case is heard on a case by case basis, though sources say the Liquor Control Board might be more lenient on a licensee if the violations occurred under a previous owner and the fines were paid in a timely fashion.
Mieszko Kalita, chair of the Community Board 1’s Public Safety Committee, said he has not heard any complaints from nearby residents about excessive noise or other quality of life issues. Bradley said that some residents were complaining to city agencies about noise and he has been visited by city officials in the past. While some customers speculated that the venue was closing due to selling alcohol to minors, investigators at the State Liquor Authority said that sale to a minor is not among the current charges pending against Fix Fix Inc.
“Sale to a minor is a major offense, Kalita said. “If there’s three in two years, it leads to a suspension and most probably a revocation of the license.”
The alternative comedy community in Williamsburg has been stunned by the news. With the demise of Riffi’s in downtown Manhattan last year, and now Sound Fix’s closure, there are fewer places for alternative comedy to thrive in New York.
“Now that will disperse, and a few small pieces will find a scene elsewhere but the centralized core just keeps getting smaller and smaller and smaller and I think it’s really a sad statement on things here,” said Ed Murray, a comedian who performed at Sound Fix. “These are the things that the residents should be embracing, not pushing away.
Bradley hopes the space can continue to operate, perhaps under a separate owner, as a live music venue down the road.
“It won’t be a bar anymore but I’m hopeful a new operator can take it over as a cafe,” said Bradley. “I want to keep the tradition going. It means a lot to me.”
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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