Dec. 21, 2018 By Christian Murray
A liquor store operator with a checkered history is about to face fierce opposition as he attempts to open a new store by Astoria Houses.
Xiao Wang, who operated the now-shuttered Baba Wine & Liquor at 3-15 27th Ave., plans to open a liquor store at 8-23 Astoria Blvd., next door to a facility that treats veterans with alcohol and substance addictions. The site, formerly used by a church, is also near Astoria Houses, the large public housing development.
Wang is going before the State Liquor Authority on Jan. 9, 2019, in his quest to get a license, the agency said. He filed for the license on Aug. 20 under the name “Vernon Wine & Liquor,” an entity that is not related to a liquor store by that name at 50-06 Vernon Blvd. in Long Island City.
Council Member Costa Constantinides has written a strongly-worded letter to the SLA in opposition to Wang’s application.
“I strongly believe a business established with the main driving purpose of selling alcohol would be a detriment to the surrounding community, which includes a veterans-focused rehabilitation facility and a public housing complex,” Constantinides’ letter reads. “For the applicant to disregard its proximity to such a center is a sign of arrogance, selfishness and toxic hubris.”
The SLA has also received a letter from Assembly Member Cathy Nolan in opposition to the application, according to Bill Crowley, a spokesperson for the SLA. Her letter stated that Reality House—the rehabilitation center next door—was also against it.
Community Board 1 has not weighed in on it, according to Florence Koulouris, CB1’s district manager. She said that the board was not notified of the application.
Liquor store operators are not required to notify community boards when they apply for a liquor license, Crowley said. The requirement only pertains to entities that serve alcohol on site.
Crowley said that Wang’s previous liquor store ran afoul of the law in July 2017.
Wang was fined $20,000 for selling liquor that had not been purchased from a licensed wholesaler and for not allowing an inspector onto his premises during normal business hours.
Wang was unable to be reached for comment.
Crowley said that Wang’s past offenses and the letters in opposition would be taken into consideration at next month’s hearing.
Meanwhile, Constantinides plans to put pressure on the SLA until the agency rejects it.
“The Council Member is ready to hold the SLA accountable,” said Terence Cullen, a spokesperson for Constantinides. “This is what the SLA is there for—to protect the neighborhood.”