Cops raid Hy Ting; find no underage drinking

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Riverhead police raided Hy Ting Restaurant on East Main Street after receiving a tip for underage drinking. Except it turned out to be a false alarm.

Riverhead Police raided downtown’s Hy Ting restaurant on East Main Street Thursday night, acting on a tip that minors were being served alcohol there, officials said.

Cops found no underage drinking, but issued a violation against the owner of the Chinese restaurant, Ken Loo, because his liquor license had expired, according to a police press release.

Mr. Loo in an interview said he believes he’s being “picked on” by local authorities.

“The liquor license expired April 30, and I have my [renewal] application in,” he said. “They came here with 10 cop cars in the back and everyone in here was over 21. I don’t have to be pushing liquor on minors. My family owns three restaurants in this town. We make all our money on food.”

He also faxed to the News-Review a copy of the liquor license, which shows that it expired April 30.

“I’ve held my license for 17 years here,” he continued. “And I never had a problem. Did they really need to send all these cops in here? And not one arrest.”

He said all the patrons were ID’d by police.

Mr. Loo also owns the Haiku sushi restaurant on East Main Street, which he opened in late 2009. His brother, Jim, owns Birchwood Cafe on Pulaski Street.

Hy Ting was also cited for extension of premises and failing to produce business records after the 10 p.m. raid.

“There was a person out back drinking with other people who were smoking,” Police Chief David Hegermiller said of the extension of premises charge. As for the business records charge, Chief Hegeriller said it had to do with paperwork not being in order or off the premises.

He said not properly documenting where liquor is being purchased is one example where a business owner can be charged with failure to present records.

Chief Hegermiller said the department wasn’t picking on the restaurant, as Mr. Loo had asserted.

“We had a complaint,” he said. “I can’t see how that’s being picked on.”

He also pointed out that the department did recent checks of several convenience stores for underage drinking, a sweep that resulted in seven arrests.

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