Saratoga Springs

State Liquor Authority suspends Gaffney’s license in Saratoga Springs

Gaffney’s line, downtown night as crowds fill the bars on Caroline Street in late hours in Saratoga Springs on Friday, July 30, 2021.
PHOTOGRAPHER:

Gaffney’s line, downtown night as crowds fill the bars on Caroline Street in late hours in Saratoga Springs on Friday, July 30, 2021.

SARATOGA SPRINGS – The New York State Liquor Authority on Tuesday suspended the license of Gaffney’s on Caroline Street.

The suspension, which is temporary pending a hearing before an administrative law judge, follows numerous reports filed by the Saratoga Springs Police Department involving violent incidents at the bar, including a stabbing and brawl over the weekend, according to the State Liquor Authority.

The state board’s suspension means that, effective immediately, no alcohol may be sold or consumed on the premises. The suspension was ordered by Chairman Vincent Bradley, Commissioner Lily Fan, and Commissioner Greeley Ford at a special meeting on Tuesday, according to the State Liquor Authority.

This weekend’s stabbing was the third stabbing and fourth violent incident to originate at Gaffney’s since October, according to the State Liquor Authority. The State Liquor Authority has several pending charges against Gaffney’s for these incidents, as well as for the continued pattern of noise and disorder and for becoming a focal point for police attention, according to the State Liquor Authority. The May 1 brawl and a large fight on March 6, 2022, that began inside Gaffney’s resulted in the injury of multiple police officers, according to the State Liquor Authority.

“There is a clear pattern of behavior which not only threatens public safety, but has become a drain on police resources,” SLA Chairman Vincent Bradley said in a statement. “The SLA has an obligation to ensure this violence does not continue, and this emergency suspension should serve as a message that this agency will not hesitate to take immediate action when a bar poses a threat to public safety.”

The state board’s suspension of the license of Saratoga Hospitality at Gaffney’s came a day after the the City of Saratoga Springs issued the downtown bar a notice of violation for operating with an expired city license.

Gaffney’s problems with its city license have to do with the possibility of improperly certified bouncers, according to Saratoga Springs Public Safety Commissioner James Montagnino.

“Once the bouncer situation is cleared up, I don’t know that there is anything else standing in the way,” Montagnino said. The bar has until May 15 to get its city license into compliance.

Regardless of whether the city license matter gets cleared up, Montagnino said the city is still concerned about violence that has occurred at Gaffney’s. Over the weekend, city and state police responded to two violent incidents in the area of Caroline Street and Maple Avenue early Sunday morning, The Daily Gazette reported. A fight broke out around 2:30 a.m., which led to several arrests on charges of disorderly conduct. At about the same time, officers became aware of a stabbing victim in the area, as well. The man was transported to Saratoga Hospital and then Albany Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries. No arrest was made over the weekend related to the stabbing. 

“We still have serious issues with the way Gaffney’s has been conducting their business.
It’s clear that they have no handle on security,” Montagnino said Monday, saying the city’s information discloses that the individual who allegedly did the stabbing over the weekend had the folding knife inside Gaffney’s, despite the bar’s insistence that it wands patrons before they enter.

A spokesman for the bar expected to have a more extensive comment on the State Liquor Authority decision in the coming days.

“We are reviewing the ruling and will have more to say in response” Wednesday, said Joe Bonilla, a spokesman for Gaffney’s.

The State Administrative Procedure Act authorizes a state agency to summarily suspend a license when the agency finds that public health, safety or welfare requires emergency action, according to the State Liquor Authority. When the State Liquor Authority summarily suspends a license, it also serves a Notice of Pleading alleging one or more disciplinary violations. In invoking a summary suspension, the State Liquor Authority has deemed the violation to be sufficiently serious upon initial review to warrant an immediate suspension. The State Liquor Authority’s decision to summarily suspend a license is not a final determination on the merits of the case. The licensee is entitled to a prompt hearing before an administrative law judge, according to the State Liquor Authority.

Andrew Waite can be reached at [email protected] and at 518-417-9338. Follow him on Twitter @UpstateWaite.

Categories: News, Saratoga County, Saratoga Springs

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