Our city has been highjacked from people from out of
town who are coming in and getting drunk, violent and
causing problems for our police force and the good
people who just want a safe environment to live.
Chaunce Hayden: How would you describe the current
situation between the downtown bar owners and the city
counsel of Hoboken… especially yourself?
Mayor Bhalla: I think the best way to describe it is as a
gradual transformation more in keeping with Hoboken’s
A more family friendly environment.
Local Restaurant Owner: Hoboken’s downtown bar owners
have always been pro family. We do cancer benefits and work
with so many other charities and youth organizations. Does
the mayor have a problem when we do bar crawls for cancer
and so many other good causes? We have a huge bar crawl
for MS and Breast Cancer and Make-A-Wish.
In the words of President Trump is your goal to drain the
swamp of all the bars that cater to a young crowd in the
downtown part of Hoboken?
Well I’m doing that but not in an aggressive or inappropriate
manner. I just plan on making sure the laws are followed
and unruly behavior is no longer tolerated. If these laws are
violated a liquor license will no
longer be permitted to such
establishments. My goal is to
create a different culture in the
downtown area that’s more in
keeping with the new culture.
Local Restaurant Owner: What
new culture? Hoboken is a town
where young professionals can
thrive. I’m talking about both male
and female professionals between
the ages 24 and 35. When you
say the downtown area it seems
like your going after the ward
of (Hoboken councilman) Mike
DeFusco who was his number one
political adversary. Hoboken’s
downtown area was always a
place to party for the past 20
years. Now you want to destroy
that to fit your own agenda which
in the opinion of many violates
the right to make a living for bar
owners as well other businesses.
It sounds to me like discrimination
because the mayor doesn’t
himself enjoy the ambience many
downtown bars offer.
This past week you revoked the
liquor license of the popular
nightspot 1 Republik and suspended the operation for
several other establishments that cater to that young
crowd you referred to. What’s been the reaction of such
aggressive action right before Saint Patrick’s Day?
I’ve gotten overwhelmingly positive reactions from the
residence of Hoboken who are sick and tired of people
getting drunk and fighting in the streets and urinating on
private and public property. All I’ve been hearing is “… thank
you, thank you, thank you for having the courage to stand up
to these establishments and not allowing them to destroy the
quality of life of this city.” Our city has been highjacked from
people from out of town who are coming in and getting drunk,
violent and causing problems for our police force and the
good people who just want a safe environment to live. On top
of that the residence have to pay for all the police over-time
to control those who are only here to cause trouble and put
our police in danger. People from out of town are trashing
the city and the tax payers have to pay for it. That is totally
unacceptable to me. So the reaction has been amazing and to
the credit of the bar owners they are changing their ways of
operating within the law and if they continue to obey the law
they will be able to stay in business.
Local Restaurant Owner: So Mr. Mayor are you saying all
outside people are drunks who puke and pee over other
people’s property? That’s what it sounds like. Are you
discriminating against out of towners? Mayor sir, the people
you describe who trash our town; are these the same people
who fill up our over priced parking garages? Are these the
same people whose cars are ruined driving down our third
world country Washington Street? Which by the way was
described as one of the worst roads in the nation.
Lets talk about Leprochon Day this past week. How was the
city in terms of crowds and behavior?
I walked the streets with my wife and two children and we had
lunch downtown. The quality of life seemed greatly improved
than in the past. I had local residents approach me on the
street and say that for once they can go out of their homes
and have a bit to eat at the local restaurants. The people of
Hoboken felt like they got their
city back. There was a private
event for Leprochon Day in the
downtown area that took place in
the later evening hours, but overall
the amount of arrests and tavern
sheets were down dramatically. It
was a much more quiet night and a
much more orderly night.
But will the lack of people who
come to enjoy the city from out
of town hurt all the businesses in
Hoboken who just won’t see the
number of potential customers
on the streets that they are used
I’m not aware of anything like that
happening. Having less out out of
town crowds wont hurt Hoboken
or impact it’s residents other
then to make it a better quality
of life for all the people who live
in the city. For too long Hoboken
was a place where people would
come into town on a weekend
and engage in an out of control
amateur hour. That is no longer an
option for these people. Hoboken
is no longer a town where you
can come and get trashed. Those
days are now over. Hoboken has grown up and it’s residents
have grown up. My mission is to create a hospitality industry
in the downtown area that changes who it currently caters to.
I want to see the hospitality industry cater to a much older
demographic that represents the people of Hoboken.
Local Restaurant Owner: Mr. Mayor are you suggesting
or demanding or creating a dictatorship style environment
that businesses have to operate under? According to your
comment it’s more about your own likes and dislikes rather
than a free society where the business owner has the right
to decide who their cliental should be. The mayor seems to
have a problem specifically with downtown establishments.
Mr. Mayor you talk about the quality of life. Have you ever
approached a local business owner who’s quality of life is
affected by the increasing number of homeless people who
are drunk and urinating on the streets and begging for money
while families and young professionals are trying to enjoy
Would it be fair to assume that the bars who now currently
exist in the downtown path area of Hoboken will not be
able to survive if your mission is indeed to change their
I think the bars in that area of town can not only survive but
thrive if they are willing to reconsider their business model.
They will now need to cater to the residents of Hoboken who
are older and less prone to wild and disorderly behavior.
Those days are gone.
Local Restaurant Owner:: Mr Mayor with all due respect
have you taken a walk around your town? Hospitality
business owners would be willing to walk around town with
you Monday through Friday when business is off almost 30
percent. Haven’t you seen all the empty stores up and down
Washington Street because they can no longer afford high
priced rents? When you talk about changing our business
model are you also asking McDonald’s to change their
business model? Mr Mayor when you were drinking and
partying in Hoboken would have wanted us to change our
business model? Weren’t you apart of the same crowd you no
longer want in Hoboken?
That said, do you see the out of town crowd that you refer
to moving on to Jersey City to drink and party the way 20
somethings like to do? If so what advice would you give to
the mayor of Jersey City?
I know Mayor Fulop very well
and I know that he is concerned
about that and like me he will
not tolerate it either. I won’t
advise Mayor Fulop on how to
do his job, he’s very good at it
and doesn’t need my help. But
I can tell you he will not let the
bars in his city become what
Hoboken has cleaned out. Just
like Hoboken, Jersey City will
make sure there are no lines
down the street consisting of
intoxicated people. There will
accountability if the bars break
the law and they will also be losing their liquor license like
what we have done here in Hoboken. Listen, there are very
basic rules of owning and operating a bar and owning a liquor
license and as long as those rules are respected the bars
will be fine. If they break those rules they will not be able to
operate. It’s that simple.
Local Restaurant Owner: Mr. Mayor with all due respect,
maybe Hoboken should take a look at what Jersey City is
doing. They are pro restaurant and bars and unlike Hoboken,
they are willing to work with the hospitality community.
That’s why Jersey City business is thriving and we’re not. In
Hoboken the hospitality community is always under attack
by your administration with nonsense fines regarding zoning
laws and anything to promote our business including beer
signs and menu boards.
How did it all get to this point? Who is to blame? The past
Hoboken administration? The bar owners? How did we get
The last administration in Hoboken to it’s credit made
substantial reforms that helped us get to this point where we
can now close down these bars. The real problem was in 2011
and 2012 where things got so bad we literally had to cancel
the Saint Patrick’s Day parade because things got so out of
hand. But things have drastically improved and will continue
to improve under my administration. Also let me say that a
vast majority of bar owners in Hoboken are very responsible
bar owners. It’s just a few that have taken advantage of the
privilege of their liquor license. It was the desire of these bars
to attract the college age drinking crowd. They are to blame
for the problems we’ve seen in Hoboken and we won’t allow it
any more. Like I said, those days are now over. In the coming
weeks we will be writing more warrants and cleaning out
those bars that have been the cause of all the problems.
Local Restaurant Owner: Mr. Mayor isn’t the job of the police
department to monitor the out of control disorderly people
who misbehave in town? Why is that on the bar owner?
There are problems at pizzerias and at fast food restaurants.
Are they going to be punished as well for the actions of
their customers. Are they going to be asked to change their
business models? Lets talk about the St Patrick’s Day parade.
The parade wasn’t canceled because of unruly bars. It was
canceled because the town couldn’t control the house parties
and a few bad apples. Wouldn’t it make sense to bring back
the parade where police, military, school bands, Irish bag
pipers and so many other organizations all march? Wouldn’t
that bring back families into Hoboken?
What would you like to say to the bar owners of Hoboken
who are in fear of losing their livelihoods?
Follow the law. It’s not complex. Just do your job. Make sure
you have enough staff. Make sure that the bar manager is an
experienced and responsible person. If you follow the law you
will see me as your friend and
we will be able to work together.
Local Restaurant Owner:
Mr. Mayor has this past or
present administration ever
tried to reach out to anyone
in the Hoboken downtown
hospitality community? From
what I hear some of the fines
your administration handed
out recently was ludicrous and
absurd and could have put
many hard working hospitality
professionals out of business.
You could have destroyed
people’s livelihoods because of
situations that were completely
out of control and out of the bar hands. I’m talking about
things like anonymous noise violations. We employee moms,
dads, school teachers, college students and many hospitality
professionals. You think we hire the wrong staff? Did your
administration think for one moment that targeting the
bars would affect the employees of those bars? How many
employees could not pay their rent, feed their kids or pay
student loans? Friends? You want to be friends? Do you think
the hospitality community doesn’t want to follow the rules?
There’s an old saying, “Friends are friends and business is
Last question. Can we expect anymore bars in Hoboken to
be shut down in the near future?
Not to my knowledge. But the Hoboken police department
looks at each bar on a weekend to weekend basis. If a bar is a
chronic abuser of the law there will be consequences.
Local Restaurant Owner: Mr. Mayor 99 percent of the
community are law abiding citizens. Why are you letting the 1
percent of law breakers destroy Hoboken’s iconic hospitality
scene? Generations of people have enjoyed Hoboken. Don’t
take that away from future generations. It seems to me that
your zero tolerance policy only applies to establishments that
you don’t like, but not toward the people who actually cause
the problems. Mr. Mayor we would all like to be friends and
work together but like I said, friends are friends and business
is business. End of story. Meet with us.