CB1 Tribeca Committee: The Unofficial Minutes

Note: I wrote about the liquor-license application—and all the details that accompanied it—for the new Danish restaurant Copenhagen here.

The restaurant at 222 W. Broadway (and Franklin, next to Pécan) wants to set up tables on the raised platform outside. Approved 5–0.

The liquor license for the bar at 52 Walker is up for renewal, and as you may recall, at the June meeting there was concern that nearby residents might not have had time to object (normally, renewals don’t actually get reviewed, but M1-5 had had complaints in the past). One neighbor came to complain about patrons being loud on the sidewalk, but M1-5’s Serge Zbrovsky made a compelling argument that “You can’t put a hand over people’s mouths.” The interested parties took it to the hallway to see if the bar’s bouncers couldn’t make more effort to shush folks.

The mission helps the homeless, and it wants to double the number of beds by adding three floors to its building on Lafayette. To do so, it’s applying for a grant from the Federal Home Loan Bank, which apparently values letters of support. Approved 5–0.

The oft-delayed application for a bar and restaurant at 116 Duane (between Church and Broadway, in the space just east of Capitol Audio) finally came before the committee, sort of—the attorney for the project was soliciting feedback, not a vote. He got it: A public member of the committee, Jean Grillo, lives in 116 Duane, and she feels about liquor licenses on Duane the way I do about CB1 meetings. (She strongly opposed one for the Duane Street Hotel.) She had rallied the neighbors, gathering signatures and letters from various buildings; Related Companies (Tribeca Tower) wrote one but it seems to have been waylaid in the many postponements. Anyhow, I had been a bit sympathetic to the bar owner going in—there are no other restaurants on that block—but then I learned that it sounded like the kind of schlock that appeals to people who don’t live here, which is acceptable in theory but we have a bunch of those places already (see Murray Street), and couldn’t he find a less residential block? The owner, Mike Hynes, has two other mediocre-sounding restaurant/bars in the city (Copia and Nellie Spillane’s) and four Spillane’s restaurants in Westchester. The capacity is to be up to 200 people; they want closing hours of 4 a.m. on weekends and 2 a.m. on weekdays. Ultimately, it sounds like the new owner of 116 Duane is trying to squeeze out his rent-stabilized tenants, and having a bar serving “Rowdy Reuben Burgers” might only help. (Interestingly, the application said opening hours would be 8 a.m.) He picked the wrong opponent, though: There used to be a bar at 110 Duane called Lush. “It took us seven year to get rid of that bar!” bellowed Grillo, possibly salivating at the prospect of a new fight. The attorney has promised not to do an end-run around the board (they could just go to the State Liquor Authority); we’ll see. One thought: A neighbor who lives on Reade, behind 116 Duane, was concerned that the noise would be brutal because they have a skylight (and/or maybe 116 Duane does). No doubt. But isn’t that a risk you take when you move into a space that was designed to be commercial? [see comment]

The owner of the Zutto space, Angelo Constantine (I may have the spelling wrong) has taken over the restaurant; consequently, he needs a new license to serve alcohol. He said he doesn’t have any plans to change the restaurant, except he’s going to try and improve the food. Approved 7–0.

VLOG, as it appears to be known, wants to have a street fair on Leonard between Church and Broadway (excluding the part where 88 Leonard’s garage empties out) on Saturday, Oct. 15. It would have a stage at one end, where community theater groups could perform; the rest would be vendors, and they’ve been talking to Etsy and vendors who work with Brooklyn Flea. It was all smelling rosy until VLOG’s two upstairs neighbors (at 65 Leonard, on the northeast corner of Church) complained vehemently and bitterly about VLOG’s use of the space. They rent it out, including to a Jazzercise outfit; their website says tap-dancing (yikes!) is allowed. There was a lot of back and forth about whether VLOG was in fact in violation of Department of Buildings code. One board member said that it was a case of gentrification rubbing up against the arts; another member said that the key difference here might be that the neighbors were there first (having moved in 11 years ago, while VLOG bought in 2008, if I remember correctly). Several committee members went into Judge Judy mode. Eventually, the committee chair pointed out that the question was whether this disagreement had any bearing on whether VLOG could throw a street fair. (Um, no?) Then it was mentioned that the committee had the option to throw it over to the Mayor’s office, making them decide, and that’s how the cookie crumbled. I pity the neighbors, more so after seeing all the audio equipment stacked in VLOG’s windows this morning.

Duane between W. Broadway and Church on Sunday, October 16, from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Approved 7–0.

The pay phone is being used for criminal purposes, so it’s being moved to a block where nobody (but me) walks. Approved 7–0. When will the city just drop the phones and put up freestanding billboards? The pay phones are all about the advertising income anyway.

There were a bunch of liquor-license renewals on the agenda, but as I mentioned, these usually don’t get discussed. One committee member, however, is annoyed by the Harrison‘s sidewalk seating (it takes up too much of the sidewalk, I think), and then another brought up Ninja, saying that the patrons (whom he referred to as Orientals, before correcting himself) come up to the sidewalk to smoke. The point, as is so often the case, was obscure.



  1. With respect to 116 Duane, there are a number of buildings on Duane Street and Reade Street that share an alley with 116 Duane. A few of these are groundfloor spaces that were previously commercial a number of years ago (1980). I do not think the notion that a space was formerly commercial negates the need to stop increasing the number of bars on residential streets. Bars do not just impact the neighbors that share walls or alleys with the building — they impact the whole street (ask anyone how Reade Street between Church and W. Broadway has changed since Sazon opened and there are intoxicated people standing outside on the sidewalk at all hours). In addition, we are also talking about an area where all of the buildings (other than Tribeca Tower) are low-rise residential buildings. As someone who lives in one of these buildings, I am concerned not only about noise, but also about the character of the area. Given the number of bars within two blocks of this site, I do not see the need for yet another bar.

  2. @CB: After I posted that line, and before I saw your comment, I decided to take that line down—I didn’t make a very good argument for what I meant, and I’m not sure I can. I’m striking it.

    I’m no fan of the proposed bar at 116 Duane, and I agree that bars on side streets are worth questioning. But the notion that there are a number of bars within two blocks of the site confuses me. There’s nothing on that section of Reade (although there will be when Maxwell’s opens), and there’s nothing on Thomas. There’s nothing on Church between Chambers and Thomas, aside from Capri Caffé. The establishments on the adjacent block of Duane (between Church and W. Broadway) are more restaurants than bars: Mehtaphor, City Hall, Blaue Gans, Rosanjin, Takahachi. Certainly, compared to the streets below Chambers, this part of Tribeca is relatively bar-free (possibly due to the efforts of Jan Grillo…).

  3. Perhaps I should clarify then. Within two blocks from that location on Duane Street there are a number of establishments that will serve you an alcoholic beverage at a bar. In my opinion, the distinction between a bar in a restaurant and a bar that is not part of a restaurant is a distinction without a difference.

    In addition to your list, I would add Reade Street Pub, Ward III, Marc Forgione and Nam.

    Thirsty New Yorkers have plenty of options in this area. In addition, your reference to streets below Chambers just further supports my point that we need to protect those areas of Tribeca that are still residential — there is a big difference between Reade Street and Murray Street.

  4. I am very excited by the prospect of the Danish Restaurant

  5. @CB: If you mean two wide blocks, then sure, there are many establishments that serve alcohol on the far side of Church and beyond. In my opinion, it’s a little unreasonable to want to live in a place like Manhattan, to enjoy all the liveliness that comes with the restaurants and bars, but to also say that those establishments should only be on other blocks.

  6. There are many establishments that serve alcohol on Duane and Reade. Isn’t that really the point? Do we need yet another establishment that serves alcohol in this area? I object to the characterization of wanting to enjoy Manhattan but not have the bars — I picked my residence with great care and I don’t see anything wrong with trying to keep Tribeca friendly to the individuals that live there.

  7. @Erik & CB – Get a room.

  8. Smithers – Move to New Jersey.

  9. @CB – You mean now? Or when the market recovers?

  10. “Orientals”??? Are you kidding me? I am shocked that someone living in NYC, especially in downtown in this day and age, would use such a word to describe Asians. It seems so 1970’s. I am embarrassed for him.

  11. The Ninja patrons are “orientals?” I just LMAO (and hard) for so many reasons on that comment. I wish I was witness to that comment. I once thought of going there for dinner, only to narrowly escape the host upstairs, when I realized this was a dining Disney land for tourists, who might not even in the 70s have been referred to as “orientals.”

  12. Don’t we have someone in the neighborhood that can come up with a good t-shirt telling these “orientals” just what they can do with their smoking?

  13. I just fixed the typo in the headline. Please feel free to let me know when that happens!

  14. CB – I live on Duane between Church and Broadway and love the prospect of having a drinking establishment a stone’s toss from my bedroom. I picked my residence with care as well, and this the street would certainly benefit from something other than that faux deli and the bums hanging out in the park in front of 105 Duane.

  15. To clarify, we are still in discussion with Related Management about drafting a letter of support. However, they did not provide us with a letter at that meeting. By the way, I eventually agreed to support a liquor license for Metaphor at the Duane Street Hotel ONCE they finally agreed to limit their hours and type of operation. Not ALL bars are trouble. BADLY-conceived bars placed small, fragile, poorly-built buildings on quiet residential side streets usually are. That’s why Albany in its wisdom drafted the 500-foot law.