Turns out not even a history of James Beard award-nominations and fundraising for 9/11 victims will get you an easy pass in front of the Community Board 2. Chef Tom Valenti and the Glazier family faced heat from the SLA licensing committee on Thursday over a request for a late-night liquor license at their new restaurant. Mathew Glazier and his parents Peter and Penny, who run the original Strip House and the Michael Jordan steakhouse, gave impassioned pleas in the hope of serving liquor until 2 a.m. at the to-be-named restaurant at 142 West 10th St. "We’ve been in the hospitality business for many many years, not only in this city but other cities," Penny Glazier says. "We’ve always been part of the community and inserted ourselves in the community."
But board members and several neighbors shook their heads at the late time as a matter of principle, regardless of Valenti's acclaim or the Glaziers' history. One resident showed up to say the restaurant would exacerbate the "pub crawl" in the neighborhood, while another argued that it was a "broader issue." "It has nothing to do with that," committee co-chair Carter Booth said in response to Glazier's track record. "It has to do with people’s lives."
Peter Glazier in particular spoke at length about the economics of restaurants — and how the community needs to let customers order booze at later seatings. He added that higher minimum wage laws will soon be another cost increase for restaurants. "If you want good restaurants to stay in the business, you gotta give us the ability to make money," Peter Glazier says. "It’s a huge pressure to have to tell people at 11:30 that last call is 12." The Glazier Group, Inc. had to file for bankruptcy in 2010, though several of their restaurants survived it. Still, the argument held little weight for neighbors and some members of the board. "That's not the neighborhood's issue, I'm afraid," one male resident said in response to Peter Glazier's plea. "We have a broader issue we need to maintain our focus on."
Ultimately, Booth made it clear that the if Valenti and the Glaziers wanted the board to vote on a 2 a.m. weekday closing time, they would — but the result may not be positive. The Valenti and Glazier team left the room and returned about a half hour later with a compromise. The new restaurant will stop selling liquor at 1 a.m. on weekdays and at 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. Board members later voted to approve the license. The vote is advisory to the State Liquor Authority, which makes the ultimate decision.
In other news from the meeting:
- The menu from shuttered Soho Italian restaurant I Tre Merli will largely be revived at a new restaurant at 303 Bleecker St. Owner Paolo Secondo, who also owned shuttered Soho spot Barolo, says the new place will have a different name, but the concept and menu will be similar.
- The owners of Midtown eatery Izakaya Mew are opening a ramen shop at 7 Cornelia St., formerly home to Tokyo Tapas. Ramen Mew will be a simple shop with 30 seats. Owner Kihyun Lee, who has five other Asian restaurants, seemed eager to please the board after they grilled another operator for close to an hour. Lee emphasized that he cares more about food and that the place wouldn't have live music, delivery, or TVs. Committee co-chair Bob Ely took pity: "It’s okay," he told Lee. "It’s just a ramen shop. We got it."
- Restaurateur Phil Alotta, who's operated downtown restaurants for years, is planning another project at 310 Spring St. The 70 to 75 seat restaurant is still in the early planning stages. The board refused to hear the concept until Alotta and his team had more information to offer.
- The team behind Whynot Jazz Room and Dominique Bistro wants to revamp the two-story space into one full-service restaurant. But owner Emil Stefkov has a terrible reputation with neighbors, who came out in full force to oppose his bid for a full liquor license. He and his attorney were grilled for about an hour. Stefkov promised to add a second bathroom, end percussive live music downstairs, and close the windows earlier, but the board was weary of such promises. "We see a flouting of laws first and then [changing after] getting caught," neighbor Doug Lee says. "It’s really been a poor relationship with the community."