New York Bill and Community Boards Target Bars Promoting Pub Crawls

A state legislator is taking aim at New York City bars that promote so-called “pub crawls,” saying that the organized events encourage rowdy and potentially dangerous behavior.

What our Manhattan liquor license attorneys find troubling is that, for starters, beyond a few nuisance complaints from neighbors during holiday events, no evidence of any real danger has been presented to support Assemblyman Micah Kellner’s theory.

The smattering of complaints upon which Kellner and some Community Boards are basing is bill include a few store owners victimized by drunk shoplifters, some fights have been reported and a couple windows were smashed. We certainly do not support this kind of destructive behavior, and absolutely those who violate the law or put others in harms’ way should be held accountable.

However, we’re talking about a few random instances in the aftermath of holidays like St. Patrick’s Day and Cinco de Mayo. There is nothing to say that banning organized pub crawls will do anything to mitigate these kinds of incidents because people are going to be gathering in large groups to drink anyway.

The legislation wouldn’t target private gatherings of friends hopping from bar to bar. What that means is people are still going to come out in droves to drink on the holidays, regardless of whether bars team up with other local establishments.

In addition to bolstering local business revenues, many of these events are organized to benefit charity. It’s also a chance for residents and tourists to experience a number of downtown night spots they might not otherwise have a chance. Showing visitors more of what the city has to offer can result in a more positive experience, which prompts many to return and recommend it to others, serving to further boost the local economy.

Although Community Boards target bars promting pub crawls, sometimes it’s not even the bar owners who are publicizing these events. Establishments may be on lists of “organized” pub crawls, and yet have no active participation in it. And yet, with the passage of this bill, they could potentially lose their liquor license for it.

Even those that do participate are not “encouraging and enabling dangerous behavior” – they’re simply offering good deals to patrons. Their business is alcohol. If it were anything else, we wouldn’t even be having the discussion. This bill is a blatant attempt to legislate morality and common sense, and this same kind of overzealous, Big Brother approach is what led to the contentious soft drink ban here in New York City.

Certainly, illegal behavior should not be tolerated. But as one bar supporter was quoted as saying by the New York Post, those who don’t want to live amid large crowds or the excitement of nightlife probably shouldn’t move to Manhattan, the prime target of this measure.

Kellner, a Democrat, maintains he is not trying to “legislate common sense.” But that’s exactly what he’s doing, to the great detriment of the many local organizations and businesses – not just bars – that benefit from these events.

The Wright Law Firm is a business law firm located in Midtown Manhattan. Call (212) 619-1500 for a confidential consultation.

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