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Cloister Cafe wins temporary restraining order against SLA

Nick Drobenko’s Cloister Cafe is claiming victory after a judge granted it a temporary restraining order against the State Liquor Authority and ruled that it could open temporarily on Friday.

The East Village hot spot had sued the SLA last month after it was shut down for allegedly hosting secret after-hours parties and violating COVID-19 regulations.

“This is huge news and a welcome relief to Cloister Cafe and its employees and the Drobenko family who have been out of work since March,” the venue’s lawyer, Robert Garson of GS2 Law, told Page Six, “And it also may provide a light at the end of the tunnel for all of those restaurant and beverage workers who have also had their licenses summarily and unconstitutionally stripped from them.”

Garson had argued that the SLA relied on media reports from Gothamist in an attempt to take down Provocateur’s Mike Satsky and Brian Gefter, who have been working on the property with Drobenko, rather than carrying out its own investigation, which the SLA denied.

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“They tried to say me and Brian were essentially solely running the business and the SLA suppressed video evidence which contradicts their entire story,” Satsky told us. He added: “We’re very cautious because clearly anything can happen. We need to feel protected. We need to feel like there’s not going to be another wrong done. I’m happy to be a part of an organization where jobs can be safely employed at this pandemic time.”

Democratic State Sen. Jessica Ramos, who’s pushed the SLA to give clearer guidance and lower fines to restaurants and bars, applauded the judge’s ruling.

“I think what happened today was huge,” Ramos said. “I think it’s incredible that there will now be somewhat of a precedent that will hopefully change the way the State Liquor Authority approaches businesses. Hopefully [the ruling] instills respect for the entrepreneur and the families that depend on their breadwinners working there, which was always our biggest worry,” she added.

A rep for the SLA did not comment.


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