P&G’s Raided in Sting Operation: Liquor License Revoked by SLA

Photo Courtesy of P&G's on Instagram

At 9 p.m. on Friday March 15, undercover agents from the State Liquor Authority (SLA) infiltrated P&G’s to conduct an inspection of the premises. The inspection, which was launched following a series of complaints about underage drinking at the bar, started when agents entered the popular bar and observed 200 young looking patrons inside and observed multiple minors purchasing and drinking alcohol. At 10 p.m., more SLA agents arrived, along with members of the Ulster County Sheriff’s department and NYS DMV, and the multi-department raid began. 

The result of the raid was dramatic. Of the approximately 200 people in the bar, only approximately 80 had valid IDs and were allowed to leave. The remaining 120 were presumed to be minors and were held within the bar. Of those minors, 63 admitted to consuming or purchasing alcohol inside the bar. Of the minors that gave statements, 33 claimed to have shown no ID and 14 claimed to have shown only their SUNY New Paltz ID card. 14 appearance tickets were written by the Ulster County Sheriff department for possession of fake IDs. Four of the bartenders were also arrested for serving alcohol to minors. Other violations that are alleged to have occurred were the sporadic checking of IDs, checking of IDs with a flashlight rather than an Intellicheck scanner and bartenders serving pre-mixed Jell-O shots, which is illegal in New York State.

Following the raid, the SLA held an emergency meeting on March 21st that discussed the inspection of P&G’s. In the meeting, General Council Kearney Sarfoh, reviewed the alleged violations by P&G’s and called a vote for an “Emergency Summary Order Suspension” of P&G’s Liquor License. That vote was successful and P&G’s liquor license was immediately revoked. Sarfoh reasoned that the restaurant had a history of violations and had established a pattern of soliciting business from minors, citing violations and warnings that went back multiple years. One of these warnings came in 2022 when investigators warned P&G’s about the use of only flashlights for checking IDs. Then, in December 2023, P&G’s was warned again when 26 fake IDs were confiscated. In addition to this, Sarfoh stated that the multiple DWIs that have been traced back to P&G’s over the past few years, as well as the recent 100-person brawl inside the bar showed a pattern of risk to public safety. 

Edgar De Leon, Commissioner of the SLA, would express similar sentiments. “I believe that the pattern here is significant. Warnings have been given; they have not been heeded. Promises have been made; they have not been kept. I do believe that the evidence indicates a threat to public health, safety and welfare.”

Sarfoh said, “This license is not even trying to prevent sales to minors … This licensee is clearly in the business of and profiting from the selling of alcohol to minors.” 

Another issue of contention for the SLA investigators was the lack of certification amongst P&G’s staff. According to the investigators, at the time of the raid, none of the security guards had completed the training that is required by the SLA. Additionally, none of the bartenders had received Training for Intervention Procedures (TIPS), something management previously ensured SLA investigators would happen. TIPS is a program that trains employees on the laws, regulations and responsibilities of various roles within a business that deals with alcohol. Since the raid, management has started the process of getting its staff TIPS certified. 

Joseph O’Conner, the attorney for current owner of P&G’s, Michael Beck Jr, provided a comment on the legal situation facing the restaurant. According to him, the Beck family is “doing everything they can do to address this” and that they have been “in direct contact with representatives of the liquor authority to address whatever problems there were.”

Hick Renadette, owner of Snug Harbor, another popular bar in New Paltz gave his thoughts on the inspection of P&G’s. “It was a little bit of a shock. For it to be that many people, all at once … That is a bit excessive” 

As a bar owner, Renadette was able to give insight into how sting operations like these develop. “The SLA lets the licensee know that they’ve been made aware of things. They don’t keep things secret. The SLA is telling when they get notified that there’s an issue and they let you know because they don’t want to come in and close you down. They want you to fix [the issue].”  Renadette theorized that the raid was likely caused by the multiple unheeded warnings. “With so many warnings, perhaps the management definitely has some culpability because this had been building.”

Around a week prior to the raid, New Paltz Chief of Police Robert Luchessi, spoke at a tavern owner’s meeting and informed the owners that the local police, along with members of the DMV and Ulster County Sheriff’s department would be inspecting local bars, looking for violations. Luchessi stated that there was a big push from the SLA to crack down on underage drinking in the area. 

Renadette does not put the blame on any party exclusively. “College kids are people and people, they want to do something; they’re going to figure out a way to do it,” he continued. “I think there’s enough blame for everyone. The students had a part in it, the management had a part in it. Playing the blame game, it’s a zero-sum game. It doesn’t change the past.” Going forward, Renadette suggested that management take strong steps to correct the issues pointed out in the inspection and to assess the way that they are running the business to keep this from happening again.

Renadette’s opinion is not universal. Many New Paltz residents along with of-age college students put some of the blame on the minors who frequented the establishment. Some individuals blame Michael Beck Jr., such as Nico Gajdzik, who wrote in a Facebook post that “P&G’s capitalized on serving underage students. Don’t act like college students are at fault here for doing what any normal college students do.” Another New Paltz resident, Anthony Prizzia, took a different stance, highlighting in a Facebook post all the good the Beck family has done for New Paltz. “They donate to every group that needs funding in New Paltz: the police, fire department, Family of New Paltz, the library, youth sports teams, adult sports teams, not to mention their contributions to the New Paltz school system.” Many others made pleas to lower the drinking age back to 18, eliminating the need for sting operations like this one. 

The emergency suspension was just the first in a series of steps that the SLA is taking to investigate P&G’s and the timetable for the return of alcohol sales is unknown. O’Conner stated that “It’s so early, I’m not sure the charges are formally drafted other than the summary proceeding. The next step is to negotiate with the [liquor authority] lawyers … I cannot put a time frame on it.” However, the restaurant still does remain open during the day and both the business and its staff could use the support of eager patrons during this difficult time. 

“I hope it does not stay closed for a while. It’s a shame. I hope it gets sorted out quickly,” said Renadette as he urged residents to eat at P&G’s during the day, try their soup and help the business stay afloat until they regain their liquor license.