"The other day someone literally vomited on my dog!" Stories were varied and tensions ran high as residents spoke out against the drunken revellers of the East Village during Monday night's Community Board 3 SLA Licensing Committee meeting, which, as usual, ran into the wee hours of the morning.
The central debate of the night focused on the attempt of Phil Hartman and Todd Patrick to open a southern restaurant with a 'meat 'n' three' menu and small, local music venue called Piney Woods in the old Mo Pitkins/Aces & Eights space at 34 Avenue A. Though artists spoke on behalf of Patrick's integrity as a musical curator and creative force and Hartman's reputation as an East Village community presence going back 20 years, an unprecedented number of residents voiced a blanket opposition to another liquor license, despite the cultural merits Piney Woods may have held. Tensions ran high after the closing of Sidewalk Cafe and many of the other establishments that were perceived as supporting the local, experimental and academic music scene—a scene that needed to sell alcohol in order to thrive. After much debate and talk of potential stipulations, the community board voted 4 no, 3 yes, and 1 abstain, meaning the full board will have to decide.
True to its reputation, the board stayed tough on venues looking to expand or renew liquor licenses. Gallery and occasional live music venue Culture Fix (9 Clinton St.) was denied their beer and wine license renewal after neighbors complained about late night noise. The board similarly rejected licenses for MAT NA Bar and Grill, a tentative sushi restaurant to replace Kim's Video at 6 St. Marks Place, along with a brew pub that petitioned by stating they would be the second brew pub in New York City.
However, they reluctantly smiled upon some local establishments with previously good reputations. Lower East Side restaurant Frankies' (17 Clinton St.) request to expand its storefront was accepted, and a transfer from family establishment to a New American establishment called Schapiro's went through, albeit with strict stipulations on closing time. Bistro Nomad at 78th Second Avenue was also allowed to slightly expand its sidewalk presence and extend its hours.
The most lenient decision might have been agreeing to give JujoMukti Tea Lounge (211 E 4th St.) a beer and wine license in a resolution area, a decision that was made in an attempt to save the healthy living center after enthusiastic patrons spoke out about the venue's uniquely diverse presence and focus on a nurturing lifestyle.
In non-Resolution areas, the board enforced strict stipulations to many new liquor applicants based on minor technicalities and concerns of residents. Residents of Eldridge Street had mixed feelings about the beer and wine license of Zoe at 245 Eldridge, a small New American cuisine restaurant to be opened by up and coming chef Zoe Feigenbaum. Feigenbaum, who studied under Thomas Keller, made a positive impression on the board with her promise of a food-focused restaurant inspired by immigrant roots.
Nearby, an Indian tapas-style restaurant called Maslawala (179 Essex) that will be replacing Munchie's on Essex Street obtained a beer and wine license until 2 a.m.; however, they walked away nervous they would not be able to sustain the rent if they were not allowed to sell alcohol until the New York 4 a.m. legal limit.
Cooper Craft and Kitchen—an upcoming comfort food restaurant to open on 87 2nd Avenue in the old Kurve space—also obtained a full liquor license.
Company Bar & Grill (242 E. 10th St.) got short-changed because someone complained they did not have a notice on their window informing residents of the application. Conflicting photos and accusations of photoshop and malicious intent were flung about and eventually the partners were asked to withdraw their request. They left in what can only be described as a huff.
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