Death & Co. Fights SLA, and We Have the Papers

We're staying out of this one.Photo: Ben Ritter


In an article in The Villager this week, State Liquor Authority spokesman Bill Crowley claims that Death & Co. has lost its license to serve and could be closed for “illegally trafficking alcohol.” But partner David Kaplan disputes the story.

Kaplan tells us that he agreed to a $10,000 settlement with the SLA with the understanding that it would lead to a renewed liquor license. But the authority decided not to renew for the very reasons Kaplan was fined in the first place — namely, he was slow to let the SLA know that he had assumed principal ownership of the restaurant Raga (which was granted the liquor license) and was changing the name to Death & Co. But the law allows a venue to continue serving alcohol while the license is being disputed and, indeed, Kaplan said Crowley admitted after the Villager article was published that Death & Co. has the right to serve. “We have submitted a reconsideration to the SLA,” Kaplan writes us. “We anticipate they will grant this. If they deny the reconsideration we will then move to an Article 78 proceeding in a New York court of law.”

Documents filed to the SLA and reprinted here exclusively include the usual accounts of undercover visits to the bar (one visit found it operating about 30 minutes past its SLA-mandated bedtime of 2 a.m. on weekends), but the stuff that really shows the lengths to which operators have to go these days is found in the later pages. Remember accusations that the bar’s name and look invoked Nazism? A letter from a Jewish organization of which Kaplan is a board member assures the SLA, “David has traveled to Israel to meet Israeli families whose members were displaced due to the Holocaust.”

And then there’s a letter from chef Jacques Godin. We can only imagine his exasperation at allegations that Death is a bar and not a restaurant when he writes, “I do not understand what the polemic is about. D&C; is a restaurant with a chef, a sous-chef, a line cook, a preparation clerc, a runner and dishwasher/busboy clerc. I don’t know about you but it seems a lot of people in the kitchen for a bar.” Oh snap!

View the documents

Related: Scoopy’s Notebook: R.I.P. Death & Co. [Villager]