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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last night Community Board 3 held another riveting meeting regarding SLA and DCA (Department of Consumer Affairs) licensing. The docket was long and the tempers, at times, were short. Here are some of the highlights:
1) Phil Hartman, Todd Patrick and attorney were present to discuss a new music venue/restaurant/bar at 34 Avenue A, the old home of Mo Pitkin's and more recently Aces & Eights. Hartman (who also owns Two Boots) was faced with some serious criticism from the committee and members of the community. Right off the bat when he was presenting he "apologized that Aces & Eights ever happened." The community and committee were saying there was too much in that area, with 56 liquor licenses on Avenue A between Houston and 14th Street. Some people who were fans of Mo Pitkin's still said this was not worth it. Even the District Manager of CB3 Susan Stetzer asked that the project be denied. One man spoke for about 10 minutes in opposition of the project, ending his speech reciting the Frog & the Scorpion fable. Even if the scorpion asks the frog nicely for help traveling across the pond and the scorpion promises he wont sting the frog (because then they'd both sink), he still will because it's in his nature.
A few audience members did speak in favor, but in the end, the committee voted to deny in a close 4-3 vote. The main reasons for the denial were the saturation of the area resulting in a lost quality of life to the residents, the fact that the food would be Mexican and there are way too many Mexican joints in the neighborhood, the Upright Citizen's Brigade Theater is coming to the block (actually to Hartman's old Two Boots Pioneer Theater Space) and the fact that one of the partners from Aces & Eights would still be a partner in the new project even though he would have no voting rights or creative control and was simply on board in an attempt to make back some of the money lost. Seems like the band will not go on... for now.
2) Table 12 at 188 Avenue A was hoping to obtain a wine and beer license. They were armed with signatures of support (signatures from who it is not sure), however members of the community spoke out, saying the customers were often rowdy and the staff was rude to neighbors. They were easily denied, due to the fact that they were in a resolution area, there was little community outreach and there is oversaturation in the area.
3) Long timer Tiny's Giant Sandwich Shop at 129 Rivington Street was there in the hopes of obtaining a license to serve wine and beer. No one spoke out against Tiny's at the meeting, and there was seemingly no opposition from the community. The owner said that customers have been asking for some time if they were ever going to be able to serve booze, but it looks like the answer is no (for now). There was a motion to deny unless certain stipulations were met, however it lost by 2-3. Then a motion to deny was put on the table and passed, due to the 11 licenses within 1 block. Rough night.
4) The new location of Lucky's Famous Burgers at 147 Houston Street was present to try for a license to serve beer. While the other locations are not licensed, they wanted to try for this one due to the fact that it's the largest and the space is the most conducive to serving beer. The committee warned the owner that 147 Houston Street seems to be Unlucky with businesses closing roughly every 8 months. They voted to deny unless certain stipulations were met, including only serving beer until 12 and designating an employee to help with security.
5) Noodle Bar at 172 Orchard Street wanted wine and beer. They have been in the neighborhood for four years and oddly the committee continues to deny them. The attorney told the committee he was doing the board a favor by appearing for a wine and beer license, to allow them to an opportunity to create stipulations. The board again voted to deny, due to an abundance of other licensed stores in the area.
6) In sidewalk cafe news: you can expect to enjoy the great outdoors while dining at Cafe Cortadito, Plum Pizzeria, and there will now be more seats at Bar Paya.
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