Kara-NO-ke! Board slams karaoke bar’s liquor license bid

The local community board slammed a proposal to renew a notorious karaoke club’s liquor license, saying that the 62nd Street club has always been a thorn in residents’ sides — and the new owners will likely be as bad as the previous ones.
Photo by Steve Solomonson

No booze for you!

A Community Board 10 panel unanimously declined to renew a notorious 62nd Street karaoke club’s liquor license, saying that it is a den of underage drinking, violence, and drug use — even though someone claiming to be the new owner says she’s going to clean up the place.

V Lounge, a karaoke joint between Eighth and Ninth avenues, has been the site of four stabbings, one vicious beating, illegal drug use, illegal indoor smoking, and rampant underage drinking since 2007, according to cops, the State Liquor Authority and members of Community Board 10’s Police and Safety Committee, which found those reasons enough to pass on the license to serve booze, a pre-requisite at most karaoke bars.

The city suspended the club’s license late last month and fined owners $3,000 for building code violations and allowing smoking inside.

A lawyer saying that he represented new owner Xiu Qin Li told CB10 that Li had purchased the business from Kevin Leung in the past month, and that she planned to clean up the beleaguered nightspot by removing the dance floor installing more private karaoke booths.

But board members didn’t buy it, saying that previous owners had sung the same old love song — but, like a jingle that gets stuck in your head, there was never any depth to the emotion.

“If you actually operated this business like this, that’s great,” Brian Kieran told Li. “But there’s no reason to believe that it will be any different.”

Reports of violence at the club stretch back to 2007, when two black men were attacked with clubs and bottles by a gang of Asian men — a crime that cops said may have been racially motivated.

This year, there have been four stabbings, with two happening between June 28 and July 5, in or near the club, cops said.

In the past year, there have been more than 50 calls from neighbors for “unbearable noise,” underage kids puking and being disorderly, added CB10 District Manager Josephine Beckmann.

Some board members cited the club’s sordid history to question the need for a karaoke bar at all.

“Maybe this is not the kind of business that belongs in that neighborhood,” said Fran Vella-Marrone.

On top of that, Neil Visoky, the lawyer who spoke for Lee claiming she didn’t speak English, couldn’t answer even the most basic questions about the club, such as why his client, a registered nurse, would want to get into the business, or how much the renovations would cost.

He also claimed he was not aware that the club was the site of violence or that it had been slapped with a number of violations.

“I had no idea,” said Visoky.

Board members scoffed at his lack of familiarity with the club.

“You should probably Google it,” said Michael Festo.

V Lounge club is one of two karaoke joints in the area with shady histories. Crown KTV on 64th Street also has been accused of being a den of violence, underage drinking, and cocaine being snorting off the bar.

Reach reporter Dan MacLeod at dmacleod@cnglocal.com or by calling him at (718) 260-4507. You can also follow his Tweets at @dsmacleod.

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