Cannon’s Blackthorn, a longtime landmark on North Village Avenue, is expected to shut down for good after the owners said a number of violations left the bar and restaurant with restrictions that made it hard to attract business.
After a series of what Fleming called “unmerited tickets,” he told the Herald on Monday that Cannon’s Blackthorn is expected to close officially within the next week. The bar had shut down in mid-January, and its website said it was closed for renovations. “It was a hell of a run,” Fleming said. “Our customers were like family to us here. I’m going to miss it.”
The well-known pub, which has served Rockville Centre patrons for 22 years, received 30 violations from May to December of 2016, including disorderly premises, inadequate supervision, failure to comply to local regulations, unlicensed security guards, improper signage and too much noise, according to documents from the New York State Liquor Authority. Cannon’s Blackthorn was forced to close a few days before Christmas of that year, Fleming said, and surrenderred its liquor license.
The Rockville Centre Police Department ticketed the business for these offenses, Police Commissioner Charles Gennario said, then issued the tickets to court with a referral to the SLA, which then followed up on the case. These weren’t the first offenses. In 2011, Cannon’s Blackthorn had been ticketed for selling alcohol to a minor, according to SLA documents. Fleming said the charged bartender was fired.
“We have a very vibrant downtown district and it causes us a lot of work,” Gennario said. “I look for assistance from the bar owners. When they don’t assist us in policing their own establishments, it becomes necessary for us to do it.”
A few days after closing in 2016, the business owners pleaded “no contest,” according to Stephen Holihan, who represents them. Though Cannon’s Blackthorn got back its liquor license temporarily and was allowed to reopen, it was forced to close at 1 a.m. — normal closing time had been 4 a.m. Last summer, the SLA added more restrictions, prohibiting the bar from playing loud music or holding promotional events, but extended the closing time to 2 a.m.
The imposed rules prevented the business from operating as a typical nightclub, Fleming said. The business, he added, was also often unable to stay active in the community by hosting events for charities and local organizations. Over the years, Fleming said, Blackthorn had partnered with local philanthropic organizations like the Tommy Brull Foundation, Bub Fund, the Gina Giallombardo Benefit for Life Foundation and Camp ANCHOR.
“I’m pretty sad about them leaving town,” said Martin Brull, founder of the Tommy Brull Foundation, who said he used the bar for 10 annual benefits, about 10 concerts and other fundraisers. “The owners have been extremely generous to the foundation and the community as a whole. …We need more mom-and-pop establishments like them.”
Gennario said many of the village’s assaults stem from people who are drinking in or around the downtown bars. “We have to stop the underaged drinking and the overserving in our establishments,” he said, “because that’s a recipe for disaster.”
He added that Cannon’s Blackthorn is not the only bar in Rockville Centre that has closed after violations. Stinger’s, a former Sunrise Highway pub, closed after 29 years in 2016, and the Beach House, which was on South Park Avenue, also shut down under similar circumstances, he said.
“That’s all the efforts from the police department,” Gennario said. “All we look for is compliance with the law, that’s it. We wish them all success, but not at the expense of the residents.”