A string of restaurant projects both big and small stood before the firing squad at last night's lengthy Community Board 2 meeting. Some survived the process, some did not, and many fates are yet to be sealed. Check in later this morning for a full post on the presentation given by the Standard. But first, Todd English, Delicatessen, Honmura An, and more:
1) The battle of the night came courtesy of the folks representing Oliver Todd, the proposed Todd English concept hotel at 25 Great Jones Street. The hotel team claims that this will be “the rare small boutique hotel that attracts the business traveler.” Their plans call for three restaurants: a 24-hour lobby café serving coffee, pastries, and light snacks, a tapas bar, and a full service Todd English signature restaurant. Said one rep, “it’ll be like staying at Todd’s house,” which given the recent headlines, makes one wonder who they're trying to attract in addition to those business travelers.
The community came out in full force, taking issue with practically every part of the application. About ten people spoke against the project, citing concerns about congestion, noise, rooftop and outdoor area access, restaurant and hotel capacities, venting, and private hotel space uses. The board particularly took issue with the fact that the structure was originally overbuilt and that the representatives had failed to reach out to the fire department or do any environmental and traffic studies. At the end of the meeting, chairman Ray Lee explained that unless the hotel and the community make serious agreements in the coming days, the app will not be heard by the full board.
2) Nearly three years after the shuttering of Honmura An, the hallowed restaurant space at 170 Mercer finally has some takers. Who, you ask? Well, at last night’s meeting Charles owner Cobi Levy presented plans for a Japanese restaurant he hopes will be “at least a New York Times two-star,” to be helmed by a Morimoto Philadelphia and Sushi Yasuda alum. Among the principals: Eater co-founder Ben Leventhal. We'll be clearly stating our ethical groundrules on this one as it progresses.
3) An owner of Delicatessen appeared to apply for Greenwich Village classic The Lion Club at 62 W. 9th (most recently the home of Village Restaurant). While there was plenty of talk about Barbra’s early 1960s performances at the bar during the presentation, it’s clear that he hopes to “bring the beautiful space back to 1924.” Provided he furnishes the board with letters of support from the community, joins the block association, and meets neighbors throughout the quarter, it’s all good.
4) Harbour GM Cherif Mbodji and mixologist Deborah Harris were applying to extend the restaurant’s hours (it currently closes at 11PM, Monday through Saturday). As the discussion went on and the board proved more and more intractable, defying the applicants to name a place other than Blue Ribbon that does fine dining in the wee hours, Harris was nearly moved to tears. She pleaded with the board, explaining that being able to operate late into the night could mean the difference between shuttering and surviving. In the end, the board granted them their wish. Behold Harbour’s new closing times: 2 AM on weekdays, 4 AM on weekends.
5) It’s unclear whether Il Rifugio (172 Waverly), an “Italian small plates” venture from the owner of Tarallucci e Vino, will gain approval from the full board. While the operator’s other locations have good track records within their respective communities, the owner has failed to do community outreach and soundproofing for this project. The deal breaker for the board, however, was the fact that the establishment will have no kitchen. According to the owner, the food at Il Rifugio will be prepared at one of his other restaurants and will only require a microwave, a panini maker, and some “arranging.” In the board’s eyes, it’s a wine bar.
6) The app for Sbafo, a proposed Neapolitan pizzeria on 581 Hudson, was laid over. The board was not pleased that a pizzeria was applying for a full license in an area that already has 27, and that none of the owners were present to respond to community concerns.
7) TLM Restaurant Inc. (115 Mulberry), a third outpost of Candle Café (33 W. 8th), forthcoming Spanish restaurant Lizarran (45 Mercer), breakfast and lunch spot Mahogany Fine Foods (75 Varick), and Downtown Restaurant Co. (372-376 W. Broadway) all got go-aheads for their respective apps, most by agreeing to the typical CB stipulations on hours, French doors, background music, and so on.
8) Pear Tree Café was a no-show, while Il Bucco, Flex Mussels, Selva Tropical Café, 159 Bleecker, Cinq A Sept, 10 Downing, the Path Café, and the Grand Hotel were withdrawn from the agenda before the start of the proceedings.
— Gabe Ulla
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