Mac’s Public House, a defiant bar in New York City’s Staten Island borough, is locked in a high-stakes battle with authorities in the city over pandemic restrictions, and the owners have declared the establishment an “autonomous zone.”
Struggling to stay afloat, the owners have said they will not abide by restrictions that Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio have enacted.
On Monday, Mac’s Public House remained closed so one of the owners could appear on Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight, but that didn’t stop patrons from banging on the door to get served.
The bar, owned by Danny Presti and Keith McAlarney, is located in an “orange zone” in the city and having been deemed a nonessential business, was ordered closed last week by Gov. Cuomo amid a surge in COVID-19 cases.
While setting up inside for the Fox News interview, people were shouting outside the locked doors, according to the New York Post.
“I want to give you money!” Robyn Harrington yelled. “We just want to give the bar some money and business.”
Harrington, 39, drove over from New Jersey to support Mac’s Public House.
“What if I slide money under the door?” she asked her boyfriend. “Wonder if there is a secret code to get in.”
McAlarney appeared on the show, telling host Tucker Carlson they have not been able to survive under the restrictions imposed and that they feel they have no other choice, being so far behind on their bills.
In effect, McAlarney said they have been “forced” into this stance — the sad reality is that there are thousands and thousands of small business owners across America in the same boat who don’t have the wherewithal Presti and McAlarney have to declare themselves an autonomous zone.
A sign in the window of Mac’s Public House states:
!ATTENTION! We hereby declare this establishment an !!!AUTONOMOUS ZONE!!! We refuse to abide by any rules and regulations put forth by the Mayor of NYC and Governor of NY State.
Unfortunately, it rarely turns out well when you take on city hall, which holds all the power.
On that note, the owners have been very public with the battle with the city, saying in videos posted online that their liquor license was revoked, they were fined $15,000, and a shut-down order was served from the New York Department of Health.
“We’re not backing down,” McAlarney said in one video. “You think you scared me by … saying I don’t have a license now to serve liquor now? Well guess what? That liquor license is on the wall. If that liquor license is gonna come off the wall, it’s gonna be done by Cuomo. You wanna come down here and pull that license off the wall?”
A video posted Sunday captured law enforcement officers accompanying a public health official serving a cease-and-desist letter and a public health notice.
The owners refused to accept the notices, forcing the official to tape them to the front window.
The owners intend to stay open and give away drinks for free, asking for donations instead of making liquor sales, the Washington Times reported.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to support them and has received over $16,000 in contributions as of this writing.
“None of this is right and our Constitutional rights have been stripped away,” Presti wrote in the page’s description. “We’ve all been shuttered and struggling since the first shutdowns. Mac’s Public House decided to take a stand for what is right, and we now ask for your support.”
“This is where we take our stand and we do it together. This isn’t just for Mac’s, this is for all of us,” he concluded.
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