Don’t even think about getting a liquor license, outraged elected officials are telling an east Bronx grocery store caught selling to minors.
The Blue Sea grocery, which opened about two months ago at 4011 E. Tremont Avenue, is likely to also face community opposition to a license application. The store was the scene of a 45th Precinct sting operation on Friday, August 11, with a police officer inside the store allegedly witnessing an undercover underage buyer purchase a 12-ounce Coors Light from the store’s manager, Amr Alzawqari, who was arrested, according to a complaint report.
Alzawqari, 25, was charged with prohibited sales, unlawfully dealing with a child, and selling without a license to sell liquor, all misdemeanors, the complaint report stated.
According to the report, Alzawqari did not ask the young man to present any identification.
About 555 bottles and cans of beer and other alcohol were seized from inside the store, the report states.
Local elected officials now say they will petition the State Liquor Authority to deny any application for a license by Blue Sea.
“The sale of alcohol to a minor is a very serious matter,” said Senator Jeff Klein. “It’s even worse when a store isn’t licensed to sell any alcohol to begin with. Councilman Jimmy Vacca and I have zero tolerance for this type of behavior and we’ll work together to have the State Liquor Authority block any application to serve alcohol at this location.”
Assemblyman Michael Benedetto said that he also intends to write to the SLA opposing licensing of the store, adding that he works very closely with the Throggs Neck Community Action partnership to prevent teen drinking and underage sales. “I am outraged about this,” said Benedetto. You would expect a store that opens in our community to be responsible.”
After the late night arrest, the store was reopened the next day, said Vacca.
“We have to send a message that no one is going to sell liquor without a license in this community,” said Vacca. “And then, to sell a liquor without a license to children in the neighborhood is a double kick and the pants and an insult.”
There also appears to be an issue with unlicensed tobacco sales at the store. Even though a large sign over the front entrance states “DELI GROCERY TOBACCO,” there is no City Department of Consumer Affairs license for cigarette sales there, said a DCA spokeswoman.
Janet Bliss of the Throggs Neck Community Action Partnership said the organization periodically sends letters to local businesses that do have licenses, stating that the police and community regularly perform compliance checks.
The organization also funds overtime for police to perform compliance checks in the 10465 zip code.
Patrick Rocchio can be reach via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (718) 742-3393