If state Sen. Daniel Squadron gets his way, it’s going to be tougher to get a martini in New York City.

Squadron, who represents Lower Manhattan and part of Brooklyn, has co-sponsored a bill that aims to strengthens the 200-foot law, that blocks liquor licenses within 200 feet of churches and schools.
The law could present challenges in neighborhoods dotted with churches and schools, such as Harlem and Park Slope.

“There aren’t many places in this neighborhood to go out and get a drink,” said Brian Washington-Palmer, owner of Native bistro at 118th and Lenox Avenue. “While Harlem is ‘hot,’ a lot of people have abandoned projects because it’s so difficult up here. Some laws they make are not conducive to promoting business.”


The restaurant and bar industry wants the 200-foot law scrapped, not strengthened.

“It comes out of this 19th century, Prohibition-era mentality that decent church-going people can’t see the evils of drinking,” said New York State Nightlife Association attorney Robert Bookman. “It’s out of date and anachronistic.”

Squadron said he’s just trying to make the law more logical.

“Having clear and enforceable laws that includes public interest is very important,” he said. “I don’t think that rational laws, technology upgrades and transparency are ever bad.”

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