White Horse Tavern Struggles with Compliance

Photo by Chris Manis.

In response to an inquiry from WestView News about unruly crowds at the White Horse Tavern, owner Eytan Sugarman responds:

Hi George,

Hope things are going well with you despite all that’s not going well in the world. Regarding White Horse, we were very overrun this weekend and frankly unprepared for the influx of traffic. In the year plus I have owned it we never had such crowds. I have taken the measures the police officers have asked me to in order to insure a safer and more orderly situation going forward. Having said that, I have been attacked by neighbors who go on the internet and rant about social distancing and lack of masks. I don’t know how people expect me to enforce this personally. I went up and down the block personally, asking people to clear the sidewalk and allow for a proper walkway. The argument is that anything by my property is my responsibility. How can I force mask wearing? I suggest it, and I even offer masks at my expense. As for distancing, again, how can I police this? People stand near each other and am I supposed to physically pull them six feet apart? I’m not a police officer. I don’t see how I can be held accountable for other people making the decision to ignore the warnings. I will hire a dedicated staff to keep the sidewalk and bike lane clear—that I can control. The officer’s argument is that there were too many people on the sidewalk. George, when I wake in the morning, G_d almighty doesn’t ask me how many guests I wish to have and then furnish me with that exact amount. I can’t control how many people show up. Even if I don’t serve them, many just congregate who aren’t my patrons. In all my time of ownership I have never seen crowds like this. Clearly people are dying to get out and about after the long quarantine period. I am trying my best to be a responsible owner and neighbor while attempting to keep my doors open. The White Horse Tavern is in danger of not being able to stay in business. It would be a real tragedy to lose this landmark establishment, that you heard Mr. Dylan Thomas recite his poetry in, because of circumstances beyond our control, and frankly, people’s refusal to work with me and try to understand all my challenges to keep this place open. It’s been around since 1880. I would really hate to see it close now.

—Eytan Sugarman

3 thoughts on “White Horse Tavern Struggles with Compliance

    • Author gravatar


      Your choice of phrasing is unfortunate. The problem is not so much that people are “dying to get out.” The problem is that people are dying. Period.

      Luckily, there is a simple solution to your dilemma.

      The West Village community supported the street dining proposal specifically to help local restaurants like yours restart.

      Now that you have that extra outdoor seating all you have to do is: 1. Get rid of the bar you have set up on the sidewalk (which the SLA prohibits anyway); 2. Reinstitute table service; 3. Only serve people who are seated (as mandated by the SLA).

      Problem solved. We get to live. The White Horse Tavern gets to prosper for another 140 years.

      Augustine Hope

    • Author gravatar

      Mr. Sugarman, I know it’s hard, but you have to do it. If people don’t comply, escort them away from the premises. We all have to require compliance with safe practices so that we can control the virus and keep each other safe. Don’t give up.

    • […] ask me how many guests I wish to have and then furnish me with that exact amount,” Sugarman wrote in his July 4 op-ed. “I can’t control how many people show […]

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