Over two weeks, Sayville community members have raised nearly $7,000 in an effort to save Station Pub on Lakeland Avenue from shut down.
Greater Sayville Chamber of Commerce president Eileen Tyznar and Sayville resident Ashley Johansen organized the GoFundMe fundraiser Nov. 25, just three days after the Sayville bar had its liquor license revoked by the New York State Liquor Authority due to COVID-19 safety violations.
The pub received its first violation in September, owner Steve Rubino said.
According to New York State Liquor Authority public records, the on-premise liquor license for Station Pub LLC, owned by Rubino, is currently inactive.
A representative from the NYS Liquor Authority was contacted, but not immediately available to confirm the violations.
The GoFundMe states “As of three days ago, the NYS Liquor Authority took away his liquor license for what the state says are infractions of the strict rules and regulations thrust upon restaurants and pubs” amid the pandemic.
Farmingville resident Rubino said the pub remains open, but is only permitted to serve food and nonalcoholic drinks. The estimated fine to obtain his lost license is between $20,000 to $25,000.
“It’s very frustrating that it’s come to this, because there’s absolutely no good reason,” Rubino, a former Sayville resident, said. “Instead of helping us to straighten things out, [the NYS Liquor Authority] wants to fine us and close us down.”
Tyznar, who co-organized the fundraiser as a resident and not a Chamber member, said she understands the importance of state guidelines – but believes the state should give businesses guidance on how to proceed following violations.
“Give them guidance, give them solutions and give them creative ways to keep their businesses alive,” Tyznar said.
For Coldwell Banker real estate agent Johansen, the pub holds a special place in her heart. She moved to Sayville three years ago, around the time Station Pub first opened at the former site of the Flatbush Pub. The bar was always warm and welcoming, she said, and Rubino and his team were always eager to help the community.
Rubino has hosted fundraisers for many in need, including musicians, businesses, sports teams and those with terminal illnesses.
“Whenever anybody needed anything ... we did everything we possibly could to help the community,” Rubino said.
In November, Johansen said she popped into the pub to check on Rubino. Shortly after she suggested a fundraiser to save the bar, the duo teamed up with Tyznar to start the GoFundMe page.
“It makes me feel good that, even in 2020, when things have been absolutely crazy … There are good people in the world that are willing to help out, Johansen said. “These small restaurants and pubs are these people's livelihood. They can’t really do it without the support of the community.”
Rubino expressed his frustration with the violations, but said he’s grateful for the community response.
“It’s making me feel really good, that we did a good thing here for the last three years,” he said.
Over the summer, the bar hosted guests outdoors and maintained appropriate social distance requirements. Rubino said the pub always adhered to guidelines.
“We worked really hard to follow guidelines and do that, and now to get this – it’s just really defeating,” Rubino said.
In a statement posted on the Station Pub Facebook page Nov. 14, staff expressed their gratitude for the Sayville community.
“The last few months have been rather tough on all of us,” it read. “We want to assure you that we are following all safety protocols and regulations, not only for our loyal customers, but also for our dedicated staff. The health and safety of our community is our first and our main priority!”
Station Pub is one of many Suffolk County restaurants that have struggled amid the pandemic and been impacted by state regulations to control viral spread.
On Dec. 7, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that if regional hospitalization rates do not improve in upcoming days, indoor dining across Suffolk will decrease to 25 percent maximum.
“It’s been very challenging, not just for his bar, but for a lot of the pubs and restaurants,” Tyznar said. “For many of these small businesses in our town, it's been extremely challenging.”
Community members interested in donating can visit: https://www.gofundme.com/f/save-the-station-pub.