CB1 Tribeca Committee: The Unofficial Minutes

I arrived a bit late, so I missed the request for a right turn from Laight onto Hudson. The next discussion was about increased safety measure for pedestrians on the northwest and southwest corners of Hudson and Laight, because drivers exiting the Holland Tunnel have been known to drive up on the sidewalk. Residents played the child card (I want kids to be safe, too, but do adults count less?), and the Department of Transportation rep said they’d look into it when they do pedestrian counts there in the next few weeks. Next up: more Holland Tunnel traffic, this time the drivers who come out onto Beach. Residents of the American Thread Building at 260 W. Broadway (north of Tribeca Park) say that no one stops at the stop signs there, or on the south side of Tribeca Park. (And, surprise, children are at risk.) But they’re right: You definitely have to make eye contact with the drivers, as one resident pointed out, to make sure they see you. Residents said cops just ignore the problem, and they brought up possibilities such as a stoplight, rumble strips, and a speed bump, and the DOT gave the incredibly frustrating answer of “we don’t do that.” Two possibilities that didn’t get kiboshed immediately are a flashing red light to alert drivers of the stop sign, or louvers on the green light further up Sixth, so drivers won’t race through once they spot green.

This is the jazz club we’d been hearing whispers about and was supposed to get discussed last month: Joseph Schwartz (former bartender at Milk & Honey and managing partner of Little Branch) and Vito Dieterle (a saxophonist who plays at Little Branch) are taking over the basement level of event space Bogardus Mansion. Their partner in the jazz bar—to be called George’s—is the building’s owner, George Aprile, who wasn’t at the meeting. Needless to say, the board had concerns about noise, as did a couple of neighbors, given that Bogardus Mansion has been allowing loud parties to be thrown there. (“There’s a gigantic PA system right now that’s just vulgar,” said Dieterle. “We won’t have that.”) The proprietors explained that they see the music as being in the background, and they plan to move the band away from the rear of the building—which fronts an air shaft area, as do several other buildings. Once it was determined that (a) the building’s skylight is on the ground floor, not in the basement; (b) the steel shutters in the rear will be shut; and (c) the proprietors genuinely seem to want quiet music (“George can’t stand a loud drum,” said Dieterle), opposition relaxed. What we learned about George’s: It’ll hold 25 people, including staff, versus around 75 at Little Branch; they plan on moving the band away from the back; food will be served; the music will be mostly jazz and blues, with perhaps an occasional singer-songwriter playing unplugged. They agreed to closing hours of 1 a.m. on weekdays and 2 a.m. on weekends, and the liquor license was approved 8–0. A FEW UPDATES: Joseph Schwartz sent over a few clarifications: “George’s is the DBA name for the moment and may be changed prior to opening. The legal capacity is 125 (staff included) though we may operate at a lower number for sake of service and comfort. Vito is also a bartender at Little Branch though he started as our saxophonist. The photo is of the space prior to some of the cosmetic additions underway at the location.”

Reps for David Bouley’s long-delayed Japanese restaurant, Boji/Brushstroke, didn’t show.

Reps for MVNBC—which I assume is for Benvenuto, the restaurant/deli at the southeast corner of Greenwich and Franklin—didn’t show.

As you read here first, the dining-in-the-dark restaurant chain Dans le Noir? (the question mark is part of the name because “We don’t want to give answers to people”) plans to open a theme park restaurant in the space currently occupied by Lafayette Grill, on Franklin between Broadway and Lafayette. As one might imagine, the committee had a tough time getting its collective head around the concept. The best moment of the night came when the chair reminded a public member (not a member of the public), “We’re not voting on whether it’s strange or not.” It passed 8–0. What we learned about the restaurant: There will be 98 seats in the dining room, and 65 in the waiting area/bar. You have to check anything with a light—phone, watch, etc.—in a locker. You dine in shifts, entering the dining room via conga lines led by the blind servers. Dans le Noir? will be working with Visions/Services for the Blind and the Lighthouse to hire workers. The minimum age will probably be around 15, because kids don’t do darkness well (and they might poach wine, it seems to me). Speaking of which, you only get a half bottle of wine per person. The menu is a $65 prix fixe, and upgrades are available—but generally you don’t choose what you eat; you just say whether you have preferences and/or allergies. The tables are communal, to facilitate interaction with other diners. Exit signs are blacked out, but there are infrared cameras around the room, and the manager is watching from behind the scenes. If there’s a problem, the staff knows where the panic buttons are, which will turn on exit signs, followed slowly (so as not to blind patrons) by the house lights. “It’s an experience, not a gimmick,” insisted a rep for the company. Nonetheless, they see the market as 40 percent tourists, and during the day, they’ll hold corporate events such as [shivers] teambuilding. The projected opening is March or April; I guess you don’t have to spend a lot of time on the interiors if no one can see them.

PROPOSED STREET FESTIVAL: TASTE OF TRIBECA This obviously passed. The event will be Saturday, May 21, on the same streets as last year: Duane between Greenwich and Hudson and Greenwich between Reade and Jay.

PROPOSED STREET FESTIVAL: BASTILLE DAY Cercle Rouge’s Bastille Day street fair didn’t happen last year because the restaurant’s owner said the permits were too expensive. This year, the restaurant is partnering with Friends of Finn Square. Remembering too well last year’s CB1 Tribeca discussion about whether it was fair to close off the block of W. Broadway between Beach and White (this year, July 14 is a Thursday), I left to get something to eat. If it didn’t pass—the chair is a huge fan of the event—I’ll personally host a teambuilding event at Dans le Noir?



  1. It would be nice if we could convince drivers exiting the Tunnel via Beach to adhere to the no right turn signs onto Varick. There are TWO BIG SIGNS — graphic representations, and it’s not uncommon, especially on the weekends, for them to be flagrantly ignored!

    It passed… no team building in the dark for us. Though I have to say, conceptually Dans le Noir? sounds like a fun night out, and we’ll certainly go there once it opens