2015-04-15 / Features

CB 2 Holds City Services Meeting

By Thomas Cogan
A leading bar owner in Hunters Point wishes to open a restaurant a little more than a block from his current establishment.  That fact was enough to swell attendance last week at a meeting of Community Board 2’s city services and public safety committee, to the point where the conference room at the New York Irish Center on Jackson Avenue wasn’t large enough for the purpose.  When a woman described the owner’s bar on Vernon Boulevard as a “bad neighbor,” the dispute was on and got so noisy the committee had to call for order repeatedly.  At same time, the owner and his bar are popular with many who know them and such friends were there in force to defend the man and his business.

There were several other business applications that the committee had to consider, and though they didn’t get comparable attention, some of them, or perhaps all, might take their place in the CB 2 district and were therefore significant.

Brian Porter, owner of LIC Bar, 45-58 Vernon Blvd., is making an application for an on-premises liquor license for The Gantry LIC, a restaurant he referred to as a “gastropub,” at 47-02 Vernon Blvd.  For better or worse, the LIC Bar has a reputation.  The woman who called it and him a bad neighbor, citing loud music and drunken behavior well into the early morning, is obviously negative and fears the new place nearby will perhaps double the racket, or greatly increase it anyway. 

When asked to describe the new place, Porter said the main emphasis at The Gantry LIC would be on food.  There would be no live music, as there is at times at the LIC Bar.  There would be a sound system for music, he said, but he’d keep the volume at a tolerable level.  He had no plans, at the moment anyway, for outside seating.  Shortly before Porter said these things to the committee, a man testified that he had been through many meetings like this one and concluded over time that you should trust no one’s promises because anyone and everyone making them will later let you down.  Referring to that, Porter said his long experience in business has taught him he shouldn’t even think of being devious.  (Earlier, the committee’s Patrick O’Brien told the untrusting complainant that he would hold all those coming before him to the promises they made.)

There was some discussion about a 4:00 a.m. closing time, which obtains at the LIC Bar and is planned for The Gantry LIC.  Kenny Greenberg, artist, businessman and member of CB 2, said it was fine amusement differentiating between a bar and a gastropub but if drunken behavior can emerge from either in the early morn it hardly matters—and he has seen all too many persons staggering through the community after closing time, often leaving evidence of their presence behind them.  The owner of the Opendoor Restaurant at 10-09 50th Ave. said in contrast that more local places, many of which have earlier closing times, should switch to 4:00 a.m., which he called “the New York standard.”  Another man attempted a favorable comparison to the local bars that close at 4:00 a.m. and the local delicatessens which are opening at that hour.

When it came time for a motion, Patrick Murray of the committee said that if The Gantry LIC’s kitchen could be kept open till 2:00 a.m., which Porter said was feasible, then its closing time could be 4:00 a.m.  The motion was carried unanimously and Porter and his many friends departed happily.  

Four other applicants were there for their on-premises liquor license applications (a fifth applicant failed to show). 

SJL 2 Inc. is owner of a Greek restaurant at 10-07 50th Ave. (next door to Opendoor) that would have 50 seats, a small bar and an outside patio for which they have no seating plans.

The Mill Coffee Co.  has a coffee shop at 44-61 11th St. that seats about 25, is open from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and wants to extend its hours to 1:00 a.m. at the latest.  In the evening hours a select list of alcoholic drinks would be available.

Billy Burger Corp. owns Williamsburger, 36-17 Greenpoint Ave., and is looking to expand its beer and wine license to a full liquor license.  Williamsburger has been open since 2013, is small and has no outdoor space.

Roosevelt Tropical Corp. has a restaurant at 67-22 Roosevelt Ave. and is open until 1:00 a.m.  O’Brien commented that it’s a rough neighborhood there.

There were two applications for beer and wine licenses.  The first one had its complications.

LIC Hotel Inc. made its application for 44-04 21st St., a restaurant that is to be open every day from 5:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. at the base of an 89-room hotel that is due to open in September.  One of the applicants, who identified himself as the principal, is the son of the hotel’s owners and also a student in NYU’s graduate school of hotel management.  O’Brien wondered about his experience and who would assist him.  He also noted that the building’s certificate of occupancy is still held by the former occupant, a branch of Capital One Bank.   Joseph Conley of the committee commented that the hotel is in a busy area and could be a thriving enterprise after it opens.  He suggested that a firm grasp of how to run the hotel and all its departments (which might soon include a rooftop bar) should be expected, but evidence of that is not strong.  O’Brien told the applicants to return in May with a certificate of occupancy.  He said he also needed a better picture of who is to be hired and their experience.

The last applicant was Yahan Corp., wanting only a beer license for its gas station and convenience store at 65-01 Queens Boulevard in Woodside.

Three of the applications for on-premises liquor licenses were approved:  SJL 2, the Greek restaurant; The Mill coffee shop; and Williamsburger, whose hamburgers were enthusiastically approved by O’Brien.       

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