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CB3 Approves Souvlaki GR, Denies 'Douchbags' at La Vie

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

2011_01_lavieLast night's Community Board 3 meeting was a brief affair, punctuated by 9 layovers and several no-shows (Cien Fuegos and Superdive among them). But, since this is CB3 we're talking about here, there was still a fair amount of drama and excitement.

1) The first item was for a renewal with complaint history for La Vie lounge in the old Boucarou space at 64 East 1st St. Residents had been complaining for months, and rather than turn down the music, the owners chose to soundproof the bar and offered to soundproof residents' homes. A board member warned, "You're going to have the same misery that Le Souk had. Do you want a living hell or do you want to have a successful business? Then turn it down." After the board questioned one of the owners' integrity (he also owns the two Horus hookah bars in the area) and forbade him to speak, the La Vie rep became indignant. They received a unanimous denial. Turning to district manager Susan Stetzer, he snarled, "This was over before it began. That's racist!" Later on she had a laugh with the board, saying, "If douchebag is a race, then I'm racist." Update: Our reporter was mistaken. It was another board member, not Stetzer, who made the douchebag comment. Our apologies to Stetzer.

2) The owners of Barraza Foods, who operate a Mexican restaurant in Jersey City, were approved for a license transfer in the former Xiao Ye space. During deliberation, the chairwoman poked fun at Eddie Huang - calling him a "big talker" - and muttered the words "Four Loko" several times. They eventually settled on the pared back hours of 1:30 AM (from 2 AM) for weekends.

3) No one from Superdive showed up, but the board let a group of community members speak out against them anyway. There was talk of them being under investigation by the DOB for performing unpermitted work (the proposal being that they want to move their bar to the back of the space). The residents' gripes were mostly about the method of operation—basically, Superdive is technically supposed to operate as a bookstore, which of course it is not. The move to deny the license hinders the owners' ability to sell the business, which the residents are hoping will force them to give up and actually turn it into a bookstore.

4) Kostas Plagos of Souvlaki GR showed up to the meeting with his brother, and the two burly Greek men elicited girlish giggles from both the female and male members of the board. The space, which was previously a laundromat, will incorporate 10 tables and a 3x5' bar. They were unanimously approved for a beer and wine license, with operating hours of 11 AM - 11 PM Sunday-Thursday (1 AM Fri/Sat).

5) Lastly, the Cien Fuegos team was expected to come before the board for proposed sidewalk seating, but no one came to speak on their behalf.
Update: Per Susan Stetzer in the comments: "this is so incorrect. I am Susan Stetzer--and I was sitting in the audience. He called me a racist. The person who made the douchebag comment (which I would never do) was a board member--not me."
—Zachary Feldman

La Vie

64 East 1st St., New York, NY