Gaffney’s in Saratoga OK’d to reopen with $70K fine, conditions

A long line of patrons waits to enter Gaffney's in downtown Saratoga Springs late at night on Friday, July 30, 2021.
PHOTOGRAPHER:

A long line of patrons waits to enter Gaffney's in downtown Saratoga Springs late at night on Friday, July 30, 2021.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — State regulators have given Gaffney’s conditional clearance to reopen, six weeks after they suspended the controversial Caroline Street bar’s license to serve alcohol.

The bar said it would announce its reopening plans soon, and said it would continue its efforts with neighboring establishments to improve the rowdy atmosphere that descends some evenings on Caroline Street.

The suspension came May 3, after a series of violent incidents blamed on Gaffney’s in the preceding seven months.

At its June 8 meeting, the State Liquor Authority proposed and the bar’s operators accepted the following conditions for reinstatement:

  • A $70,000 civil penalty;
  • A 2 a.m. closing time, with last call at 1:30 a.m.;
  • Electronic wand scanning of all patrons entering after 9:30 p.m.;
  • ID scan for all patrons upon entering, with information to be stored for 90 days;
  • Live music banned, only pre-recorded background music may be played;
  • Police must be called for all physical altercations.

The vote by the SLA chairman and two commissioners was unanimous.

The series of incidents that put Gaffney’s on hiatus included a March brawl that left three responding police officers injured and a stabbing the weekend before the license suspension.

Some have singled out Gaffney’s as the worst in a cluster of sometimes rowdy watering holes, a criticism it has rejected.

On Tuesday, a public relations agency retained by the bar issued a statement about the SLA decision:

“We appreciate the due diligence by the State Liquor Authority for Gaffney’s to reach an agreement that will allow us to reopen our establishment at some point in the near future. The conditions set by both Gaffney’s and the SLA keep the safety of our guests of paramount importance, which has always been a top priority. As reported in the media, the challenges Caroline Street has faced have continued since we closed more than six weeks ago. We intend to help lead those efforts in collaboration with fellow establishments and the city. Further updates regarding our operations and our future will be announced in the coming weeks ahead.”

Saratoga Police Department spokesman Lt. Bob Jillson said it is hard to say whether Caroline Street has been a better place without Gaffney’s.

“We haven’t had any melees with cops in the middle of the street,” he said Tuesday.

But the problematic atmosphere has persisted without Gaffney’s, he said.

“Caroline Street comes with its trials and tribulations because of all the establishments that are down there,” Jillson said.

It’s not an exact data-driven science whereby one more or one fewer changes the scene by a set amount, he added, but such a tight concentration of drinking establishments is a setting ripe for problems.

Categories: Business, News, Saratoga County, Saratoga Springs

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