With a whopping 24 items on the agenda, there was barely any standing room by the time last night's Community Board 2 SLA Licensing Committee meeting commenced. The seven hour, somewhat arbitrary exercise in democracy (it's important to remember that operators can always appeal to the SLA directly and get approved without the nod from the community) saw its fair share of impassioned speeches, and one community member was even threatened with the police (the one without Sting) if she didn't stop verbally attacking an applicant:
1) Seats freed up considerably after the folks behind bars The Red Lion and Alibi (to name a few) left with a denial for a new venture at 159 Bleecker St and took their 44 supporters with them. For some reason, no one got as jazzed as we would have expected by the prospect of dueling pianos.
2) Nightlife Kings Carlos Quirarte and Matt Kliegman of The Smile appeared before the board as a favor to a Noho resident who claimed that she and other neighbors felt duped by the pair. The board chastised them for not adhering to the stipulations of their agreement, since the retail portion of their establishment is minimal and it's really more of a cafe than a retail shop. All this was for naught, of course, as Kliegman and Quirarte were already in possession of their liquor license, having superseded the board and appealed to the SLA. Lo and behold, the board members denied their renewal, citing activities like basement tattooing (which has since ended) and showing disrespect towards their neighbors by going behind said neighbors' backs to obtain the license.
3) Alex Stupak had another successful night before CB2. We're not sure why he had to go before them again (perhaps closing time stipulations), but he got a big fat approval for his upcoming taqueria Empellon, provided he and wife Lauren Resler adhere to the imposed stipulations, which include a 2 AM closing time and sound-proofing put in place to keep dainty neighborhood ears from hearing the industry workers they hope to lure (think of the children). Stupak's celebrity status, as well as his intentions with the space, were called into question. A bunch of self-described "foodies" came out in support, while the dissenters made a point of telling Stupak directly, "I've never heard of you before". One of the best comments of the night came from a resident who was concerned about vomiting, more specifically, that new restaurants bring in people who throw up on her sidewalk. She then turned to the audience for support and was met with blank stares.
4) Another big name on the docket was the EMM group's proposal for a space at 21-27 9th Avenue (tentatively called Lucky 13), which partners Mark Birnbaum and Eugene Remm revealed would be "the seafood equivalent to Abe & Arthur's." The three-floor restaurant will be a culinary playground for Hung Huynh, but residents wouldn't budge on plans to utilize a third floor rooftop. Birnbaum and Remm were badgered into submission, eventually withdrawing the terrace from their application to avoid further complications. At the end of the day, they were still denied because as board co-chair Richard Stewart put it, "it's just too big".
5) No. 7's Tyler Kord and Matthew Maddy received the most vehement outcries from Elizabeth Street residents for their plans to transform a basement space (a hatch, really) into a restaurant (last named Horses). Tenants of the building thought the project had been abandoned and felt scorned now that the restaurateurs were back applying for the space. One woman's yells could be heard all the way from the NYU bathrooms as she railed on the pair for discriminating against people with disabilities, owing to the staircase descending directly from the street. Another resident harangued about their destroying a courtyard garden to gain access to the basement space. Since it was apparent that there was no community support, they were denied.
6) Other notable happenings: Hamming it up about wanting neon signage, Galen Zamarra was unanimously approved for his upcoming sister restaurant to Mas (farmhouse), called Mas La Grillade, and Jimmy Chin of Chin Chin fame proposed a Chinese tapas restaurant at 481 Washington Street that was laid over until they do community outreach. In discussions of Lucky 13, board members were told to expect Villa Pacri (aka the return of Fabio Trabocchi) to apply for a license for their 3-4,000sqft rooftop in the near future.
- Zachary Feldman