Restaurant and bar owners have a long history of enraging neighbors. The reasons can be as varied as loud, smoking patrons to owners flashing flood lights into the windows of apartments (more on that later). One thing is for sure, the love/hate triangle that often develops between the people who run these hotspots, the residents who despise them and the Community Boards that attempt to regulate them can provide for some pretty epic battles. Eater has scoured through the history books to find some of the best from the past decade, presenting you with The Top Ten Neighborhood Battles. Have we forgotten something immensely entertaining? Remind us in the comments.
1) The Beatrice Inn vs The World: The problems with "The Bea," as it was once affectionately referred to, started before the place even opened its doors. It was only a matter of time before club owners Matthew Abramcyk and Paul Sevigny's plan to open a celebrity magnet on an otherwise sleepy block in the West Village completely blew up in their faces. Sure enough, their baby opened, it was a big hit and CB2 immediately took notice. Then came the raids, public outcry and, eventually, it died a slow death.
Just when the fun looked like it would be over and the club would go off quietly into the night, it got vandalized. And then it happened again. By August this year, the Times weighed in on the topic, thus bringing an end to a nearly three year battle.
2) Cooper Square Hotel vs 5th St. Block Association & Friends: Honestly, it's tough to believe this place is still standing. After countless unsuccessful attempts to block the construction of this glass behemoth, the nearby residents fought on once the hotel opened, citing several reasons to justify the impending fury. Most of the conflict stemmed from the storied outdoor patio (though the penthouse terrace didn't hurt either) that sits just under three feet away from the windows of the adjacent building. Was it necessary for said neighbors to hang dirty underwear and other...accoutrements out their windows? Maybe not, but sure provided a good, old fashioned neighborhood bloodbath.
3) Jane St. Hotel vs Jane St. Block Association: At first, it looked like the Jane St. Hotel and Ballroom would simply be another hipster favorite and mild aggravation to the neighborhood around it. However, things quickly escalated and, before long, the once shining light of the nightlife scene found itself being raided by the full monty of city acronyms (DOH, DOB, NYPD, FDNY). Not only that, the place has a whole blog (!) devoted hating the ballroom. For now, the lights are still on, but this one is far from over.
4) Le Souk vs CB3: The newly reopened Le Souk remains one of the most controversial restaurant/bar/dance clubs in the East Village. The place has made so many appearances in front of the CB3 that it's difficult to even track its eventual demise and perplexing resurrection. You see, after incessant complaining from the community and numerous violations for overcrowding, the SLA revoked Le Souk's liquor license, which appeased the community. That is, until a judge overturned the original ruling by the SLA over a technicality. Cue the NIMBY's. Hopefully this one will get some closure in a few weeks when the the owners and angry Avenue B residents face off before CB3.
5) Death & Co. vs CB3: When it opened in early 2007, Death & Co. quickly emerged as one of the leaders in a growing cocktail movement taking place throughout the city. Just as swiftly, it also became clear that neighbors just didn't want the place. Within three months of opening, CB3 voted to deny their liquor license, calling the bar a "bait and switch," and the bar shuttered for a week. In December of that year, the SLA again forced Death & Co. to close for a week and denied their license renewal, giving the bar four months to appeal. The following May, owner David Kaplan sued the SLA to have it reinstated was allowed to provisionally operate (with a midnight last call) while awaiting judgment. Finally, this past summer, Kaplan & Co. were awarded a liquor license.
6) Bouley vs CB1: When a respected chef and restaurateur goes before a community board, their reputation typically serves them well and they face little resistance. When David Bouley went before CB1 to get liquor license approval for Brushstrokes, his proposed Japanese restaurant and cooking school in Tribeca, he hit more than a few snags. Namely, the board cited Bouley was "denied approval based on the history of the owner, having problems with the community in the past, and the way he runs his establishments." After much back and forth, Bouley miraculously won approval. No matter though because Brushstroke will be moving into the failed Secession/Danube space across the street come January.
7) Double Happiness/Femme Fatale/The Mott vs CB2: Over the past four years, 173 Mott St. has proved to be a location that just won't die. In it's original incarnation, it was Double Happiness, the subterranean club that made headlines for pissing off its neighbors to previously unthinkable levels. Then ex-model and promoter Emma Cleary wanted to buy the place, armed with the bulletproof game plan of opening a bar called Femme Fatale that, in her own words, would cater to "models, investment bankers, and celebrities." After two years, Cleary dropped out and new investors took the reigns, eventually emerging with The Mott. CB3 would have sprung for a beer/wine, but they applied for a full license and were unceremoniously denied. The main issue: they want to reopen the underground space that Double Happiness once occupied and do bottle service! Come on guys, have Emma Cleary's mistakes taught you nothing?
8) 1Oak vs West Chelsea/The Caledonia: If there's one thing this well publicized battle taught us it's that high end lounges/clubs and high end, luxury apartment complexes don't mix. When nightlife began its exodus to the far west side, it was because no one lived there, the ideal location for the rowdy kids that East Village residents despise to roam freely. But in a post-Highline world, it was only a matter of time until this situation was ruined. The Caledonia, with it's ultra-expensive units, fit the bill nicely and before long, rants like this one started pouring out: "Music can be heard in my apartment with the windows closed even when I wear earplugs up until 4 am." Fast forward nearly a year later and no major resolutions have come to fruition. Major clash ahead? Definitely.
9) Buster's Garage vs CB1: Like many other on this list, Buster's Garage was one places that just refused to give up. Buster's shuttered its space at 180 West Broadway back in 2006 to make way for a new development, then unsuccessfully tried to reincarnate at 18 Leonard Street, among other Tribeca/FiDi locations until it settled on 25 N. Moore, in the retail space for the Atalanta, a condo building. The battle between 200 Water, the company that owns Buster's Garage and the surrounding community, became affectionately known as a complete "busterfuck." Highlight of said warfare: Busters owner Ross Provenzano owns a real garage at the bar's original location. He installed flood lights to "retaliate" against the neighborhood for supporting the Atalanta's opposition by shining the lights into their windows. Buster's has yet to relocate. Where can you really go from there?
10) The Box vs CB3: Sure there a million bars and restaurants that find themselves in public scuffles with their neighbors, but "cabarets" like The Box that enforce a beachwear dress code at their door, those come along less often. Like many others before them, the owners went before the board to prove that their establishment was in fact a cabaret and not a den of sin and defend charges as varied as "improper noise control and 'a dead girl being dragged out of there by an ambulance at 4:30 am.'" Yikes. Despite the desperate pleas of countless community members, The Box was able to secure their license, showing once again that the LES specializes in boggling the mind.