More Community Board fun, but this time, we head from CB 3 to CB 2, which covers the mighty mighty Meatpacking District. The biggies on the calendar are 244 West 14th Street, formerly the Plumm and Nell's, that Scott Sartiano and Richie Akiva plan to transform into their Butter North. Oddly enough, the space has never had a Cabaret License, so Scott and Richie must go before the CB to beg for one. If the CB says no, then we guess everyone will be forced to stand around and smell their own farts and not be able to dance. Cross your fingers. Also on the docket is another application for The Standard, which is looking to add another bar to its already packed roster. Could this be the Penthouse Room with the hot tub? We hope so, because we need a place to soak our weary bones while getting drunk.
Entries in Community Boards (18)
Memo to Hollywood: If you are looking for your next sitcom idea, may we suggest the interplay between Community Board 3 and the owners of Le Souk? You see, CB 3 hates Le Souk and the noise, fights, and congestion it creates on Avenue B. The members went so far as to successfully lobby for its closure. We are assuming that Le Souk also hates CB 3, since they always complain about their business and went so far as to have them shut down. But then Le Souk got the upper hand and had their license reinstated, thus infuriating the Community Board. It's an endless dance that will soon continue, as Le Souk now must return to face their foes on October 13 for a License Renewal Hearing. D'oh! Le Souk is listed under the dreaded "Renewal With Complaint History" heading, right at the top of the list. We are sure that the whole angry posse will show up to complain about this one, and thus the circle remains unbroken. We told you it had sitcom potential. Now excuse us as we go call our agent.
It became completely apparent this week just how much the local community hates having the Jane Hotel as the home of New York's most popular nightclub. But it also became apparent that unless something drastic happens, the Jane is not going away anytime soon. But DBTH, how can you be so sure? Excellent question. You see, once the SLA issues a liquor license, it takes them an awfully long time to strip it away. The SLA also allows an operator who is in violation of their license agreement to continue to operate until a hearing is held to determine the fate of the license, giving the operator a chance to prove that they have made strides to fix the problems. Of course, New York City Agencies do have a coordinated team that rolls out en masse to investigate bars and venues that rack up numerous complaints, and we expect the Jane is on the list to be visited sometime very soon. That means they better have their ducks in row in terms of making sure no one under age is inside, there is no smoking, no capacity issues, etc etc. But unless it's egregious, the Jane will still stay open.
This neighborhood group is not a real force to be reckon with, but the City agencies and PD are. Our suggestion? Stop having live bands, do everything to fix the traffic issues, force patrons to enter from the West Side Highway side of the building, and make sure your security keeps everything in control inside the room. It may go a long way to fixing things before they get fixed for you.
Behold, the renderings for the planned renovation of the former Limelight space on 6th Avenue. Where there once was a church and nightclub, there is now a plan to turn the 163-year-old, landmark building into the Limelight Marketplace that will house 80 different high-end shops and 1 fine dining restaurant. But it may be not so fast for the Limelight Marketplace group because the local Community Board has a long memory of the former church as the oh so wild Limelight and the oh so crappy Avalon. So even though the LM has no plans to apply for a cabaret license, "residents are worried that the mall is 'one big dodge to get a club going there,' said Board 5 Landmarks Chairman Howard Mendes", adding that a "large empty space in the floor plan that would be 'perfect for dancing'. Can you believe it? A space that would be perfect for dancing! The plan may be scrapped because there is a space! Anyway, the developers promise that there is nothing like it in New York, and they may be right. But good luck convincing Howard "Matlock Jr." Mendes, who is still scarred from the bad old days of Peter Gatien and the Club Kids that people still worship for some odd reason. Don't worry Howie - no one cares anymore.
Last week, the Nightlife Preservation Community announced their "attempt to swing the election towards four candidates who are in very close races." Noble effort all around. The only problem is their candidates have almost nothing to do with nightlife! The Comptroller is the CFO of New York City with absolutely no legislative authority, the Public Advocate is a relatively toothless office held over from a previous era that acts as the ombudsman of City government, and both Council candidates are from outer boroughs, including one from the Forest Hills section of Queens. Who in this movement even lives out there? The kicker is that the elected official from each council district is usually the only vote that counts, with the rest of the council following their lead. So while the effort is nice, the NPC's plan will not bear fruit. What is needed is more transparency in the licensing process (a State issue) and limitations on the Community Boards to impose arbitrary restriction on restaurants and bars. But since the CB's are feeders into the Council, good luck getting these candidates to go along with it. But hey, they love your money and votes, so yay nightlife!
The Villager gets word that State Senator Daniel Squadron and Assemblymember Robin Schimminger's (Buffalo) legislation strengthening the 500-foot rule, passed both branches of the State legislature and were off to Governor Patterson's office for signature. It is expected to happen. David Rabin and Uncle Stevie will now cry in their corn flakes.
We've heard a lot of funny complaints from community members about liquor license applications, but Luis Santiago from Brooklyn's Community Board 1 may take the cake. In response to veteran restaurateurs Dan Lathroum and Stefan Mailvaganam plans to open a restaurant at the corner of Metropolitan and Driggs, Luis said, “We are trying to prevent gang activity in the neighborhood. Opening this restaurant with beer and liquor, with teenagers already going crazy here, it’s going to be an even bigger issue. I don’t think it’s a good idea for there to be tables and a cafe out on the sidewalk.” Uh, Luis, fine dining establishments with live jazz normally aren't ground zero for gang activity. What do you think this is, the Shank? [BP via Curbed]
Everyone knows the SLA is messed up, including the SLA, where applications for a new liquor license can take anywhere from six months to a year. The Times digs up some fun facts about one of New York State's most troubled agencies:
- 2,073 licenses were pending as of last week, with 873 of them for more than 3 months
- The Harlem office which handles New York City, LI and Westchester has 9 employees who review applications, 45% of the total employed by the SLA
- The Harlem office regulates 65% of the permits
Simple calculations show that the SLA represents the bureaucracy at its best. An SLA spokesman tells the NYT, “we are sympathetic to the fact that there are hardships, and there isn’t anyone who wants to see these applications processed more than we do.” One potential bright spot, Governor Patterson is supporting two bills that will allow applicants to serve booze while their application is pending, but we figure the Community Boards will go ape shit over this one. Meanwhile, they still haven't addressed the root cause of the problem, the backwards application process. Maybe next decade.
There has been a lot of chatter over recent changes to the 500' rule and the liquor license application process. Many think that the process is so rigged that only those who pay to play will ever succeed in getting a new application(not an upgrade or a transfer) approved in New York City. We're here to say that this just isn't true. And while it's not easy or quick, it is still possible to get a license approved and open the coolest lounge this side of 14th Street. Welcome to DBTH U, where we will give you the knowledge you need to get things done. Let's get started.
Remember that weakening of the 500' Rule used to determine liquor license approval by the SLA? Well, forget about it, because good old Shelly Silver has gotten down to business in Albany and made certain that community board crazies will have their way forever. Let's go right to the horse's mouth:
"I am writing to let you know about a recent victory for our community in the fight against noisy bars and clubs. Legislation I co-sponsored and worked to pass along with my colleague, Senator Daniel Squadron, will reverse a court decision that would have weakened one of our community's toughest weapons against disruptive local bars - the 500 foot rule.
Last night, the folks from Koi took their case to the open minded members of Community Board 3. As we predicted, things did not go so well. We guess that their open pre-meeting didn't help sway the Board members, who are the only ones who matter. Is it salvageable? For Koi's sake, it better be. For you see, time is running out on their lease at the Bryant Park Hotel, and a Little Birdy tells us that they are desperate to find a permanent home for their delicious, expense account friendly Japanese cuisine. So buying this building and creating a massive restaurant and lounge space would be the perfect solution, letting the brothers Koi own the building that housed their popular business. Too bad it's located at Ground Zero of CB 3's no license zone. Perhaps they should take our suggestion and attempt to speak with the board members on an individual basis, hear their concerns, and attempt to create a plan that works for both Koi and the Community Board. Otherwise, it ain't ever gonna happen.
The Mega Koi that is hoping to replace the current Salvation Army Building on the Bowery is about to go before the Care Bears (CB 3) next week to beg and plead for permission to open their business. But before they do, they are hoping an open meeting to conduct outreach on Thursday night at Sala. Word to the wise, Community Board members don't like to attend meetings that they don't schedule. They do like it when nightlife and restaurant hot shots come to their place of business or buy them lunch and beg and plead to support their application. "Look at me - I'm eating a sandwich with David Rabin!" That's why you never hear about experienced operators doing these kind of pre-meetings - they make their deals in private. Another word to the wise, the family behind Koi used to throw these amazing parties at their house in the Hills. The entire basement was a nightclub and they would have hundreds of people raging until the sun came up. Good times! [Via Eater]