July 20, 2020 By Allie Griffin
An Astoria council member wants the liquor license of a Steinway Street lounge revoked, citing overcrowding problems and an alleged history of violence.
Council Member Costa Constantinides wrote a letter to the State Liquor Authority (SLA) on July 15 — prior to this past weekend’s mayhem along the stretch — to ask the agency to consider revoking the liquor license of Melody Cafe & Restaurant, a hookah bar and lounge located at 25-95 Steinway St.
Constantinides said Melody has brought raucous crowds to Steinway Street in recent weeks that disregard social distancing rules despite the threat of COVID-19.
“Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic the location has become problematic to neighbors in terms of noise and large crowds that flout social distancing rules,” he said in his July 15 letter to the SLA. “There have been twenty-two 311 service requests in recent months in this vein.”
The hookah bar and lounge is just a few blocks down from another problem bar, Brik Astoria, where massive — largely unmasked — crowds gathered over the weekend, according to videos on social media. The city booted Brik from its curbside dining program for seven days for failing to enforce social distancing among its patrons.
Recent Yelp reviews of Melody point to it being a similar source of overcrowding this past weekend.
“Not enacting any safety protocols during a pandemic,” a user from Long Island City wrote on Friday. “People packed to the gills not wearing masks … is going to get people killed.”
Similar to the council member, another resident said Melody shouldn’t have a liquor license.
“Loud, obnoxious place. Drunk patrons disrupt the neighborhood,” the user wrote on Sunday. “This establishment does not deserve a liquor license.”
Constantinides said the hookah lounge has been a headache for Astoria residents long before the pandemic, however. He said a history of violent incidents among bar-goers is particularly worrisome.
“This location has been in business for quite some time and over the years it has grown to be evermore problematic causing more quality of life issues, especially in terms of violent incidents amongst patrons,” he wrote.
The Council Member said there have been 11 calls made to 911 stemming from incidents at the bar, including assault, physical disputes and forcible touching since July of last year.
In March 2019, a man fired shots into air during a dispute outside Melody, Constantinides noted in his letter. No one was injured or struck by the bullets.
“It’s clear that this business has failed in maintaining safety and has become a magnet for bad actors,” he wrote.
Melody Cafe and Restaurant could not be reached for comment by the time of publication.
The SLA didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. A spokesperson for Council Member Constantinides said his office has yet to hear back from the agency.