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Monster Lawsuits: Butcher Bay Sues Community Board 3

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Krieger, 2/8/09

East Village: Countless restaurateurs have left Community Board 3's SLA Licensing Committee meetings with their hopes ruined, dreams dashed. Attendees have witnessed fights, tears, protests. And now...now there's a lawsuit. Butcher Bay, the seafood restaurant owned by EVill moguls Jason Hennings and Bob Giraldi along with Adam Cohn (a lawyer), has brought a lawsuit against CB3 demanding its April decision against the restaurant's request to upgrade its liquor license be "annulled as arbitrary and capricious." Given the SLA makes the final call, most restaurateurs take their case up with them. Not Butcher Bay.

The restaurant argues that CB3 makes decisions based on, "1) history of operating without complaints; (2) participation in local charities; (3) employment of neighborhood resident; (4) uniqueness of applicant’s offering; (5) evidence of substantial community support," even if a spot falls within a "resolution area" (the notorious 500 foot rule). Given their fulfillment of the above requirements, owners of Butcher Bay think they deserve the upgrade.

They make a good point, but from what we understand, if a restaurant falls within a resolution area, CB3 chair Alex Militano and her team can have a lot of leeway and can reject them whether they've built churches, volunteered at soup kitchens, hired every resident of East 5th Street or not. That said, they may be able to get the CB on a procedural charge. From the pdf:

"...At the April 2009 meeting the Committee lacked a quorum. (Cohn Aff., ¶5.) In the absence of a quorum the votes of a body are invalid...At the April 2009 meeting, prior to hearing Petitioner’s application, Respondent publicly informed Petitioner that there were no conditions under which it would find public benefit in Petitioner’s application...Respondent also publicly informed Petitioner that Petitioner did not benefit from the presumption of truthfulness...Respondent denied Petitioner an opportunity to present its case. Petitioner was allowed to address the full board only during the public speaking session of the full board meeting, which occurs at the beginning of the meetings, before the board members have arrived..."
Having covered dozens of these meetings, yes, CB 3's committee does indeed seem arbitrary, capricious, and at times, biased. For example while Butcher Bay was denied due to the 500 foot rule in April, Lavagna, on the same block, got an upgrade just last month. But can the restaurant prove their decision for denial was unlawful? Lawyers, the PDF is below. Get in the comments.
· Memorandum of Law in Support of Motion to Annul [Official PDF]
· First Word: La Lucha, Destination, Jewsion Spot Meet CB3 [~E~]

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