Tiny Problem at Teany: Beer Sales Without a License


Teany, the Lower East Side cafe that many still associate with its former co-owner Moby, has been pouring more than just its signature organic teas. An investigation by The Local revealed that it has also been serving beer without a license.

According to a representative of the New York State Liquor Authority, the unassuming vegetarian cafe’s wine and beer license expired on February 28, 2010, and no application for a renewal is on file. But a Yelp review from May 29, 2011 mentions the option of “beer and wine if you want a little alcohol to go with your meal,” and on Oct. 20, this reporter was able to purchase a bottle of Heineken.

After unsuccessful attempts to get hold of the current owner, Marino Sellami, The Local finally reached him on Wednesday. Asked why his staff had served beer without a valid permit, he said, “We do not serve alcohol.” Pressed further, he said, “I let people bring their own alcohol,” but did not admit to selling beer or wine. He said he had bought Teany only two weeks ago, adding, “I told my lawyer to file the papers for me next week.” (A waitress who did not give a name confirmed that Mr. Sellami acquired the cafe from the previous owner, Walid Hammami, last month.)

Yesterday, The Local returned to Teany and was able to once again purchase a beer. When informed of the second purchase, Mr. Sellami said this afternoon, “Yeah, sorry about that. I’ll take the Heineken out of the fridge.” He said he hadn’t been at the cafe yesterday when the sale was made, and added that he would talk to his staff: “I’m going to make sure they won’t sell alcohol.”

The violations at such a high-profile establishment is especially curious in light of a well-publicized crackdown on underage drinking and similar nightlife-related infractions on the Lower East Side.