CB2 was on fire last night. As community board meetings go, this was about as good as it gets; a veritable Pop-Tarts World Cafe of community boarded-ness. Clocking in at a respectable six hours, there were big name chefs, little name chefs, zombie restaurants and a 4th generation pizzaiolo with cajones so big they probably have their own cajones:
1) Upon arrival, I Tre Merli's Paolo Secondo took center stage to make his case for a liquor license renewal that was denied in June due to allegations that the restaurant was frequently operating as a club, even going so far as to hire promoters for the events. Last time, CB2 had also threatened to send the SLA to investigate, and while they made good on that promise, the investigators found nothing. As a result, they voted to deny unless Secondo complies with stipulations like reduced hours of operation and stopping the parties.
2) Bruno DiFabio, the rash and passionate (rashionate?) pizzaiolo stood before the board for full liquor for Verace, a Neapolitan pizza restaurant at 137 7th Ave South. Looking and speaking like a revved-up Paul Giamatti, he mentioned his many Food Network appearances and his title as the World's Fastest Pizzaiolo (wait for the 53-second mark when he beats the world record, "That's fucking gold, baby!"). Then his real estate broker piped up with a homespun yarn about a little old lady coming up to him and, upon learning what was going in the space exclaimed, "Thank god it's not going to be another tranny bar!"
But by far the most awesome moment came when DiFabio challenged a board member's assertion that Keith McNally could move into the area and squeeze him out, saying, "If Keith McNally wants to put me out of business...I know more about pizza than Keith McNally - the pizza at Pulino's is awful" - a sentiment which elicited a smattering of applause from pretty much everyone. Despite one member asking, "do we really need another pizza place?", the board voted to "deny unless", a ruling which was almost unanimous except for another member who simply claimed he didn't like pizza.
3) The folks from Clo Wine Bar in the Time Warner Center asked for a full liquor license in the ground floor of shiny 1 Jackson Square. Point man Scott Kelly revealed that the building had actually approached them first about taking the space, so there was at least neighborhood support from the tenants. One board member suggested they stick to a beer and wine license, because with full liquor "you always get those limousines...all you need is twenty people and you can get a hummer" and then demanded, "What are you going to do about those limousines?" Another gem gleaned from the exchange? Apparently the rule about serving liquor near a school only applies to grades 1-12, but Nursery and Kindergarten are A-OK. The board chose to "deny unless" (they meet the board's stipulations).
4) Joey Campanaro was there for a license at 93 Greenwich Ave, which he plans to turn into a catering and events space. Best of all, he revealed his plans to become the new face of Electrolux, showing off photos of a $30,000 kitchen they've installed at the location. He said the showroom could be used for everything from a sit-down dinner for 10 to a sweet sixteen birthday party. When the question of what to do with those pesky limousines arose (these people hate limousines), Campanaro said he was friendly with some of the parking lots in the area and was working to get spaces reserved for guests. The board voted to "deny unless", and questioned the validity of Campanaro's whole operation because of the type of building he's in (group 6). According to one board member with a laptop, you can only operate with a catering license in group 9 or 13 buildings.
5) Harold Dieterle and Alicia Nosenzo got the only straight approval of the night for Kin Shop, noting that they'll have an open kitchen and a chef's counter, "so I can smile at people while I cook." It was a done deal from the moment his presentation was over, with one board member simply saying, "Good luck to you".
6) The owners of The Smile applied for full liquor at 75 Clarkson St, previously home to Mystique Gentleman's Club. They want to keep that dream alive and create an adult entertainment restaurant/cabaret with capacity for 300. When challenged by board members for having a "stingy application" that didn't include security or traffic plans, Matt Kliegman pointed out that this was a rare location in that there are no residences within two blocks, and no other liquor licenses within 1,000 ft and as such they figure that their establishment won't bother anyone. Given that the owners don't have previous experience with a venue of this size or with adult entertainment, the board voted to deny unless they can provide the adequate security and traffic plans. However, board Chair Ray Kelly pointed out that since they don't fall under the "500ft rule" - wherein applicants who are within 500ft of another liquor license must come before the board - they didn't even really need to go through CB2.
7) Rising from the dead sans Akhtar Nawab, the team behind Elettaria applied for a license renewal and stated that they will open with the same name and menu as before. The board voted to deny unless they increase the height of their ventilation hood.
8) 212 Management Group - the people that are in a way connected to Greenhouse - appeared to apply for a new liquor license for Italian restaurant Via dei Mille, as they've apparently been operating with an illegal license for over a year (it was recently canceled by the SLA, hence the appearance). Residents complained of loud noise from their Sunday brunch parties which last from 4 -8 PM (not really brunch hours at all). Despite agreeing to install a vestibule to help buffer the noise, they received the only unanimous denial of the evening.
9) And finally, Frank Fernandez of the East Village's shuttered and relocated Xunta applied for 41 Greenwich Ave, which includes a courtyard space in the back. He agreed to reduce his proposed hours and seating, but the board felt he hadn't done enough community outreach. Dependent on that, he'll get an approval.
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