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Gjelina’s NYC Outpost Hits a Snag

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A local community board denied the hit LA restaurant’s first request for a liquor license

Gjelina in LA
Photo via Gjelina

The NYC restaurant from the team behind LA’s popular Gjelina has hit a bit of road bump on its path to a liquor license. At its full board meeting in February, Manhattan Community Board 2 unanimously voted to deny the liquor license application for Fran Camaj, Travis Lett, and Shelley Armistead’s yet-to-be-named venture, but outlined recommendations for the project to move forward.

The board noted 16 stipulations for the restaurant to adhere to in order to move forward, including “no TVs,” no “boozy brunches,” and no dancing. Those should all be easy for the restaurant, a full-service, farm-to-table venture, to follow.

But the board also expressed reservations about the plans to add a second floor to the space at 45 Bond St., between Bowery and Lafayette Street. Though the premises were previously licensed as a full-service restaurant, the Gjelina team is adding dining to the second floor, which had not previously been used for eating and drinking. The board’s stipulations include a note that the team must abide by certificate of occupancy and public assembly permit regulations in the addition of the second floor.

The team had also been planning closing times between 1 and 2 a.m., and according to the board, local residents have expressed that they would be more agreeable if the restaurant were to maintain “restaurant hours,” closing no later than midnight. The board’s stipulation reflect a compromise, advising the restaurant to close at 12 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and at 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights.

The board’s vote is advisory to the State Liquor Authority, which makes the final call on whether the Gjelina team can serve booze. The Gjelina team did not immediately respond to request for comment.

As previously reported, the proposed restaurant may include a bakery and coffee shop. The Gjelina team has been working on this NYC venture since at least spring of 2016, when Lett, Cemaj, and Armistead filed documentation with the government in hopes of raising $4 million. The landlord has said that they opened a farm upstate in Rhinebeck specifically for the restaurant, reflecting the farm-to-table and local ethos of the hip LA restaurant. They had initially been targeting a spring opening. It’s unclear whether the board’s recommendation has set back plans.


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