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State cites Ugly Duckling for Covid-19 violations

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The Ugly Duckling, a trendy restaurant and bar on Long Beach’s West End that opened only a few months ago, has had its temporary retail permit revoked by the State Liquor Authority.

The SLA said in a letter to Long Island Culinary Concepts LLC, The Ugly Duckling’s corporate owner that investigators had found more than once that patrons were drinking alcoholic beverages in front of the premises before Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Phase Two reopening.

The agency also said that it had spoken with one of the owners and warned him that the business was not in compliance with the governor’s executive order.

Additionally, on another occasion, the SLA said, “patrons were not wearing masks and were not socially distancing.”

The SLA said the establishment had been granted a temporary retail permit to sell alcohol while it awaited approval of a permanent license. The agency denied the application for a permanent license and canceled the temporary permit.

Max Feinberg, principal owner of the Ugly Duckling, said in a letter to the Herald: “It is my belief that in our three years in Long Beach, I have been not only receptive with regard to community suggestions and requests but have been one of the most proactive and aggressive business owners in Long Beach when it comes to working with the community. There is not one listed violation for any of my businesses, and our residential neighbors and I have built what I believe is a long-lasting partnership and friendship based primarily on respect and trust.”

The Ugly Duckling may apply for reconsideration. A spokesman said a hearing will be held on the matter July 15. The business may sell food and is open, said a manager who asked that his name not be used.

The Ugly Duckling posted on Facebook: “We are putting on our hard hats for a bit and making our inside dining space friendly for the safety of our guests and staff. We look forward to seeing you in a few days.”

The SLA said that on June 8 it received complaints that The Ugly Duckling was “allowing patrons to gather on the sidewalk outside its proposed sidewalk cafe and consume alcoholic beverages. Patrons were not socially distancing, nor were they wearing face masks.”

“The authority spoke with Mr. Max Feinberg on more than one occasion warning him that by allowing on-premises consumption he was not in compliance with the governor’s executive order,” the SLA letter said.

SLA investigators visited the establishment June 18 and “witnessed patrons standing outside the enclosed sidewalk cafe consuming alcoholic beverages...Investigators also witnessed patrons leaving the premises with open containers of alcohol.”

The Ugly Duckling, at 906 W. Beech Street, has become a popular spot on the West End, selling T-shirts, mugs and other items.