Bar loses license after undercover bust

The Olde Timer’s Inn, pictured above Friday morning, was the site of numerous gatherings in violation of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive order banning more than 10 people from congregating.

OSWEGO — The Olde Timer’s Inn on Thursday saw its liquor license suspended by the New York State Liquor Authority after multiple warnings and undercover operations, according to state officials.

The bar, located at 2018 County Route 1 in Oswego, was found operating in violation of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s recent Executive Order requiring bars and restaurants to cease on-premise service of food and alcoholic beverages to combat the spread of the coronavirus, the state liquor authority (SLA) said in a statement. The bar was charged with failure to comply with the executive order, and failure to supervise the licensed premises.

SLA officials said the bar was initially issued a warning March 17, but continued to operate and sold alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption to undercover officers from the Oswego County Sheriff’s Office on April 16, April 24 and May 5.

Investigators said they visited the bar on April 3 and saw a person consuming alcohol at the bar. According to the release, the owner claimed the individual was painting and being compensated with beer, but the officers notified them that was also against the executive order and issued a warning.

Law enforcement officers continued surveillance on the building  April 9 and 10, investigators said, and observed more than 30 people parking behind the bar and entering through a back door.

The sheriff’s department staged its first undercover operation on April 16. The SLA report describes how the officer parked in front of the bar, where he was instructed by an employee to park in the rear and enter through the back door.

“Once inside, the officer ordered and was served a beer, with the bartender instructing the officer not to tell anyone, as on-premises sales were illegal,” according to SLA documents. “When the officer asked whether the bar was being painted, the bartender admitted that this was simply a cover story should police discover the bar was continuing operations.”

Law enforcement officers then reportedly observed two more individuals sitting at the bar three days later, and the Olde Timer’s Inn was issued another warning. Two more undercover operations were held on April 24 and May 5, with undercover officers again being served illegally.

The emergency suspension was ordered by SLA Chairman Vincent Bradley, Commissioner Lily Fan and Commissioner Greeley Ford at a meeting of the full board Thursday, which was conducted by conference call under social distancing guidelines.

“While our state has made tremendous progress in stopping the spread of the coronavirus, we need continued cooperation from our licensees,” Bradley said in the release. “While the overwhelming majority of businesses are adhering to these essential protocols, there should be no doubt the SLA will not hesitate to shut down any bar found violating these lifesaving measures.”

An unidentified man outside the Olde Timer’s Inn Friday morning said the bar was closed, but offered no other details, other than telling The Palladium-Times’ reporter to leave the property. 

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