The city sent taxi sheriffs of all people Sunday to crack down on a Staten Island bar owner who crowed about defying COVID-19 restrictions — only for the tough-talking proprietor to lock the door and say he was closed.
The owners of Mac’s Public House — which is in a virus danger zone and should be closed to indoor service — have told The Post they are refusing to heed state and city restrictions, which went into effect Wednesday.
So far, the bar has been slapped with thousands of dollars in fines and a shut-down order from the state Department of Health, not to mention had its state liquor license yanked.
But the bar still opened as usual Saturday. Around 8 p.m. that day, state Health Department workers came by and “ taped some cease-and-desist notices to the window,’’ co-owner Keith McAlarney told The Post on Sunday — but that still didn’t keep the bar from staying open.
The co-owner said the notices were “gone” by Sunday, adding, “Somebody must have taken them down. We didn’t touch it, wasn’t us.”
By 1 p.m. Sunday, the bar was then open again, and a steady stream of customers came and went, with up to at least 14 patrons sitting inside for service at a time.
Around 3:20 p.m., a pair of Taxi & Limousine Commission peace officers with radios then approached the door to the watering hole and flashed their badges to McAlarney.
The TLC is among a slew of city agencies supposed to ferret out scofflaw businesses in the area.
“I locked the door,’’ McAlarney recalled to the Post.
One of the TLC workers asked, ‘Oh, are you closed?’ ” McAlarney said.
“I said, ‘Yes,’ ” added the owner — who had been welcoming customers into the bar all day, where patrons have been paying “tips’’ as opposed to being charged for food and drink.
“She turned and walked away,’’ the co-owner said of the enforcement agent.
There were nine customers inside at the time.
The female TLC agent later told The Post, “As we walked up, they locked the door!
“I asked, ‘Are you guys open?’ They said yes. I said, ‘OK.’ I’m not going to fight with anyone. I just took a picture of the front of the building, and I’ll include it with my report.”
It was unclear why McAlarney told The Post he claimed to be closed while the city workers believed he said he was open. Reps from Mayor Bill de Blasio, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the State Liquor Authority did not respond to requests for comment. The city sheriff’s department, which typically raids businesses for coronavirus non-compliance, declined to comment.
The bar has declared itself an “autonomous zone,” taking a page from anti-cop radicals in Seattle, Wash., who took over a section of that city in June protesting George Floyd’s death and declaring they were free from authoritarian rule.
Mac’s has taken its crusade to social media, where it has openly flaunted its defiance of the government.
McAlarney said the bar has received an outpouring of support, with “104 [phone] calls yesterday, 70 so far today, [from] all over the country, Ireland, all telling us to keep strong.’’
Some people stopped by to take selfies posing with the front page of Sunday’s Post featuring the bar’s act of defiance.
On Sunday, a customer asked McAlarney at one point if he could bring a party of nine.
“More than welcome!’’ McAlarney said. “A party of 9, you’ll have to push two tables together. You know how this works. … Because we lost the license, and the shutdown, we’re not charging. Everything is free.
“If you feel like making a donation, that’ll be great, but food and drink are free. Enjoy yourself!”
A 61-year-old local, Bill, praised the bar’s efforts.
“Look at all these empty places, shut down. These guys sink their life savings into these places, and they’re all going out of business!’’ he said.
“Follow their rules, and you’ll starve this winter. De Blasio and Cuomo will be fine. You’ll starve!”
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