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First Word: CB1 Approves The Ago Redux, Puts The Smackdown on Peppers

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Welcome to First Word, wherein Eater and its correspondents sit for hours at steamy community board meetings to bring back the first word of new establishments and what they're up to. Your reports from the field always encouraged to

2009_01_ago.jpgLast night’s CB1 meeting brought 40 disgruntled neighbors to protest the liquor license of Peppers, a nightclub at 349 Broadway that’s been the focus of Tribeca ire in the past. Plenty of those people were also protesting the relocation of Flatiron’s Cutting Room to 70 Franklin Street, but we’ll get to that soon enough. First off, the big guns.

1) The space formerly known as Ago. Andrew Carmellini, Ken Friedman, and Josh Pickard successfully obtained community approval to transfer their Ago liquor license to the as-still-yet-unnamed Greenwich Hotel Restaurant. No new intel as far as the restaurant goes: a rep said the food would remain about the same, “still Italian, just more casual and relaxed.” According to lawyers, the space will be under renovation for a short period of time, and Friedman and Co. are looking into putting in a hotel bar sometime down the line. The question of the night came from one of the board members: “How’s the hotel doing, business-wise?” A grimace from the lawyer: “You know?these are challenging times. They’re doing ok.” What’s ok? An estimated 50% occupancy rate.

2) The Cutting Room: Closed since the end of December due to rising rent costs, the Cutting Room is looking to move their SNL cast parties and burlesque shows to Tribeca. Unfortunately, the management is still negotiating for the space at 70 Franklin, and canceled their appearance before CB1. They’ve promised board members to return next month, but this is apparently the second time the Cutting Room has cut out of a CB1 meeting, and the board seems to be losing its patience. Add to that a room of angry neighbors with concerns about live music ten feet away from their apartment windows, and it looks like those dancers may have to find another locale.

3) Peppers: Otherwise known as Club Fahrenheit, this bar/venue applied for a new license under the name Eros. No one from Eros showed up on time, so a good twenty minutes were taken up by unhappy Tribeca residents and their tales of weekly street closures, gunshots, and muggings related to the club and the hooligans that frequent it. CB1 was shocked that this happens on a fairly regular basis around 349 Broadway and New York’s Finest at the First Precinct have yet to do anything about it. One resident reported seeing police beating kids with billy clubs: “I mean, I’m a photojournalist, and my jaw hit the ground when I saw that.” To add to the overriding sense of lawlessness in this situation, it turns out that the current owners of Peppers are “renting” their liquor license from the management company that previously ran the bar. Highly illegal. Residents have been instructed to email the community board detailing complaints, those emails will be put into public record and sent along with a “strongly worded” letter to Bloomberg, along with Tribeca elected officials, the State Liquor Authority, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, the FDNY, and pretty much anyone else you can think of who can shut this place down. If you haven’t yet gotten the full Peppers experience, you should do that now: this place isn’t going to be around much longer.
— Stephanie Butler
· All Community Board Coverage [~E~]

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