East Village resident wants to outlaw bottomless brunch

Suit against Liquor Authority claims boozy brunch is ruining the neighborhood
By Chava Gourarie | September 20, 2017 01:00PM

Robert Halpern, a lawyer and lifelong resident of the East Village, has petitioned the state’s Liquor Authority to quit handing out so many liquor licenses in his neighborhood.

Particularly nefarious are the bottomless brunches offered by bars and restaurants in the neighborhood, which attract hordes of young people, especially NYU students, Halpern claims.

These weekend specials, where you pay a set price for unlimited alcohol during brunch hours, are prohibited by law, according to Halpern’s complaint, and they’re contributing to the “deterioration of the neighborhood.”

According to Halpern’s calculations, there are 679 active liquor licenses in the East Village alone, and the Liquor Authority keeps approving more. There were 305 new liquor licenses approved in the area in 2016, and 243 in 2017.

“There are too may people running around drinking all the time,” Halpern told The Real Deal. “It’s become more and more of a drinking culture here.”

Halpern’s argument is that bottomless brunches are prohibited by a provision against selling unlimited alcohol for a set time and a set price. The Liquor Authority’s legal counsel has previously taken the position that “brunch specials” are considered special events and exempted from the provision. The suit makes the case that weekly bottomless brunches should not be exempt.

In a listicle that would make BuzzFeed proud, Halpern’s complaint enumerates 17 bottomless brunches available in the East Village, including the Cloister Cafe which “offers free mimosas, beer, wine, screwdrivers and bloody marys,” and Jeepney, which “offers a ‘boozy brunch’ for $29 with an opportunity to ‘get wasted.'”

If Halpern does indeed have a legal case, that’s all the more reason to head to the East Village to feast on the free flow of alcohol before prohibition sets in.