Grant City, New York, Bar Fights Back Against Closure Order

On November 25, 2020, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an order that New York bars must close again if located in certain areas. The move, designed to slow the second wave of the coronavirus, has hit the hospitality industry particularly hard as many in the city rely on tourists during November and December to increase their profit margins. One bar owner, however, said not so fast.

Owners of Grant City Bar Declare Autonomous Zone

Keith McAlarney and Danny Presti, who own Mac’s Public House in Grant City, New York, put up signs around their location declaring it an autonomous zone. The signs placed around the business and in the surrounding area read “!ATTENTION! We hereby declare this establishment an !!!AUTONOMOUS ZONE!!!”

Owners Fined

The state has made numerous attempts to get the owners to comply with the city’s orders that went into effect on November 30. First, the sheriff’s office issued a fine of $15,000. The owners said they were OK with that because they have no intention of paying it. Then, the state yanked the establishment’s license. The duo fought back by staying open and offering their services to customers for a suggested donation.

Owner Arrested

Numerous people who felt that the government had overstepped their boundaries showed up at Mac’s Public House. Then, plainclothes police officers were sent into the establishment and served food and liquor for the suggested donation of $40. Officers in uniform arrived and arrested Presti, charging him with government administration obstruction and other food-and-drink related charges.

Owner Re-Arrested

On December 6, Presti was re-arrested after allegedly hitting a New York City cop with his automobile. His attorney says that the officer did not identify himself and that the co-owner felt threatened. After charging him with third-degree assault, the court system let him go on his own recognizance.

Judge Fails to Declare Public Nuisance

The city’s latest move has been to charge that Mac’s Public House is a nuisance. The city took the bar to the state Supreme Court. On December 16, Supreme Court Justice Catherine M. DiDomenico ruled that she had concerns with the governor’s executive orders’ constitutionality. Therefore, she refused to have the establishment padlocked and protected by a sheriff’s officer. She has set a hearing for February 2.