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New owner applies for new liquor license at controversial karaoke bar Crown KTV

Board doubt claims of change at scandal-scarred karaoke

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The new owners of a controversial Dyker Heights karaoke lounge swear they will change the business’s tune — but neighborhood leaders believe the song remains the same.

A new business entity called Empire KTV is seeking a new liquor license for scandal-scarred 64th Street sing-along joint Crown KTV, and vows it will refrain from the rampant violence, drug use, and assorted illicit activities that cost the club a $37,000 fine in 2012.

“The new owners know they have to have no violations, and work with the police, and not serve the alcohol to minors,” spokesman Sam Park told Community Board 10 when making a pitch for the new license at an April 23 meeting.

But members of the panel questioned the new owners’ sincerity — and even their new-ness — pointing to the numerous ownership changes Crown has had since opening in 2009, without any changes in behavior.

“We have had a parade of applicants come in here during this establishm­ent’s tenure, and all of them have been related in some way,” said board member Lori Willis.

Others recalled that the board had just approved a license renewal for the club in January, with a long list of stipulations limiting its hours and mandating increased security and soundproofing, but the previous owners had come back two weeks later and asked to get the conditions removed, which the board refused to do.

They also noted that Empire could have purchased the recently approved license with the rest of Crown KTV instead of applying for a clean slate — but CB10 members stopped just short of claiming that the application from the new ownership was just a ploy to duck the requirements set earlier this year.

“It’s definitely suspect, though,” said Fran Vella-Marrone, chairwoman of the board’s police and public safety committee.

Board members also pointed out that on top of infamous Crown KTV incidents in 2011 when a man stabbed five people in a brawl, or in 2010 when police witnessed a man doing cocaine off the bar, there have been eight arrests at the premises so far this year — the most recent on April 22, the night prior to the meeting. Police responded to calls at the location 43 times in the past two years, and the previous owner still owes the state $5,000 in fines for serving alcohol to minors and for drug use at the lounge.

“Since it opened, it’s had nothing but problems,” said district manager Josephine Beckmann.

Several board members also pointed to disturbing inconsistencies between the liquor license application and how Park presented the new business. Park claimed that under Empire, Crown KTV would operate as a catering hall offering karaoke, hosting wedding receptions and children’s birthday parties. But the liquor license application indicated that the business would primarily be a bar, not a restaurant, and said the hours of operation would be from the evening until the early morning.

“What kind of children do you bring into a bar that’s open from 5 pm to 3 am, for a birthday party or a wedding reception with no food?” demanded CB10 member Sandy Vallas.

Vella-Marrone also pointed out that the application had boxes marked both for a transfer of the previous liquor license and for a completely new alcohol permit.

“Which is it, a transfer or a new one?” Vella-Marrone asked. “There’s a lot of mistakes, a lot of inconsiste­ncies.”

Park said that the owner would withdraw it and submit a new one.

The State Liquor Authority is free to grant a new license to Empire KTV with or without CB10’s approval. The board’s decision is only advisory — though any stipulations the owner agrees to with the panel are written into the establishm­ent’s liquor license.

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at wbredderman@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow him at twitter.com/WillBredderman.
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