Mario Batali and company are heading to the Board of Standards and Appeals next week to try to re-up the zoning variance that allows Babbo to exist in violation of Waverly Place's historic district code. The restaurant's pursuit of that variance is going to have a tough opponent in the form of 84-year-old community activist (and CB2 board member) Doris Diether.
According to a profile of the activist in today's New York Times, Diether has a long history of battling the powers-that-be, starting with a 1959 open letter to New Yorkers in support of Shakespeare on the Park and leading to successful campaigns with former mayors Robert Wagner and Ed Koch. Now she's joined forces with Nuri Akgul, a retired oil businessman (described by DNAinfo in February as a retired English-as-second-language teacher?), who lives next door and has long complained about Babbo's noise.
So Batali's got his work cut out for him, but Diether apparently fought Babbo twice before, when it first opened in 1998 and again in 2002, when it first got a 10-year variance to continue operating in its space. That variance ended in December and the restaurant's in a grace period now, so it's time for Round Three of Batali vs. Diether. Babbo's hearing is scheduled for April 10.
· A Fighter for Tenants Raises Her Gloves [NYT]
· All Coverage of Babbo [~ENY~]