December 8, 2021

Stone Lounge license suspended

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

A suspended liquor license is posted Tuesday on the main entrance to Stone Lounge on south Main Street in Cortland. The state Liquor Authority shut down the business for allegedly selling alcohol to underage people.

The state Liquor Authority suspended on Tuesday the license of the Stone Lounge on south Main Street in Cortland after more than 100 cases of underage drinking since September, including one as young as 16.

The decision was made at a meeting of the Liquor Authority’s board on Tuesday. Effective immediately, no alcohol may be sold or consumed at the Stone Lounge, which opened in 2007 and has been a popular nightclub with SUNY Cortland students.

The Liquor Authority had received referrals from the Cortland Police Department detailing underage drinking at the Stone Lounge going back to Sept. 1 of this year, included 111 alleged sales to minors.

Jade Kraszewski, the public information specialist for the State Liquor Authority, said the suspension would remain in effect until modified by the Liquor Authority or after a court review. The Stone Lounge management must appear before the Liquor Authority’s board to receive a penalty, which has not been scheduled yet.

The Liquor Authority charged the Stone Lounge on Friday with 114 violations, including 111 illegal sales to minors, failure to supervise the premises, creating a sustained pattern of disorder and becoming a focal point for police attention.

Of the 111 minors arrested by the Cortland Police Department at the Stone Lounge between Sept. 1 and Oct. 27, 75 were charged with unlawful possession of an alcoholic beverage, a violation, 17 with possession of a forged or fictitious license, a violation. and 19 with both, including one that was 16 years old.

Police reported the Stone Lounge’s standard procedure involved allowing any patron inside who presented identification that would scan, regardless of whether the identification bore resemblance to the patron.

On Oct. 21st, Cortland police conducted an undercover operation at the Stone Lounge with three underage agents possessing fake identification. The IDs had false information like the agents’ eye colors and heights. One of the agents was denied entry only because his ID failed to scan. On Oct. 27, officers interviewed three people consuming alcohol there who said they were not asked to show identification. The three were arrested after police concluded they were under 21.

“Our objective is to enforce the law, to have all bars abide by the 21-year-old drinking age,” Cortland Police Lt. Rick Troyer said.

Management for the Stone Lounge could not be reached for comment.

Co-owner and manager Joseph Hage said in 2016 the bar had the most advanced system it could get to track fake identifications.

Everyone working at the bar was certified by the Training for Intervention Procedures program — which teaches employees what to look for when trying to identify a fake. Listed height and eye color tend to give away fakes right away, even if the picture matches the owner of the ID.

“It is crazy what some people try to get away with,” Hage said then. “I had one white guy try to use an ID with a black guy on it.”