CB1 Tribeca Committee: The Unofficial Minutes

The architects for the new residential building going up at 87 Chambers (a.k.a. 71 Reade) want a variance for a smaller interior courtyard than required; since it’s invisible to the street, no one cared. They also want space (under the building) for a few more parking spaces. We did learn that the ground floors will be commercial (or at least one side—Chambers or Reade—will be). The ramp to the garage is on Reade.

Two months ago, the lawyer for Mike Hynes (right) made the case for an Irish restaurant and bar at 116 Duane (between Church and Broadway); there was significant community opposition to any bar, let alone a cousin of Molly Spillane’s, Mickey Spillane’s, Maggie Spillane’s, and Nellie Spillane’s. Hynes himself showed up this time—his lawyer was there but disavowed any knowledge of the matter coming before the board on this particular night (he also repped Lotus Blue, below)—although Hynes may not have helped himself when he said “You gotta break the eggs to make an omelet.” (His point being that the restaurant would bring jobs.) Or when he said the kitchen would be at the rear of the first floor, i.e., abutting all the neighbors who live along the rear yard. The landlord’s lawyer cut a more professional figure, although his points seemed to be about how good this tenant would be for the landlord. The community still opposed it, and Hynes’s application wasn’t complete, so the chair finally said (I’m paraphrasing), “Look, you can come back with complete plans, but even if you do, I don’t know if you’ll change minds. So maybe we should just vote.” Hynes said that if the community didn’t want the restaurant then he wouldn’t try for it (“This isn’t the only location I’m looking at”)—which sounded nice, but this has been going on for months—and the vote was 5–0 against.

Responding to everyone’s confusion as to why they’d want to close at 8 p.m., the new Danish restaurant coming to 13 Laight (opposite Capsouto Park) applied to extend the closing to midnight on weekdays and 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. It passed 5–0. Also: The Prince and Princess of Denmark will be at the opening next month.

The proprietors of the restaurant taking over the Nam space, Jeffrey Lim and Dapeng Zhu, said they don’t plan on changing much inside, but there will be construction, so some changes are afoot. The menu—pictured at left (click to enlarge) looks interesting, not at all the pan-Asian mishmash I was fearing. Closing hour will be 12:20 a.m. Passed 5–0. Not all votes are unanimous—a contentious one is coming up, I promise.

The Atomic Wings at 311 Broadway (between Thomas and Duane) wants a full liquor license because business is “dismal.” (The guy said it like seven times!) The committee inexplicably gave him some grief even though the restaurant is on Broadway, it’s in the basement, and the closing hours are 10 p.m. weekdays and midnight on weekends. Passed 5–0.

Robert M. Epstein, Christopher R. Miller, and Caspar S. Ouvaroff (only the latter two were there) are planning a restaurant at 54–56 Franklin, where it hits Cortlandt Alley. Miller is a principal in Warren 77, although the board didn’t seem to notice that and/or care—despite many of its neighbors having noise issues. Miller and Ouvaroff and their lawyer—who has studied The Lincoln Lawyer, I’m thinking—swore it wouldn’t be a sports bar, and that the ratio of food to alcohol would be 70/30; Ouvaroff even said it’d be a “family restaurant.” (Er, like Denny’s?) The lawyer’s position was that they should get a 4 a.m. closing every night of the week because the current tenant, Lafayette Grill & Bar, has had 4 a.m. for 15 years and there have been no complaints. The logic was lame—Lafayette has had no problems because it’s not exactly popular, and for a good part of those 15 years no one lived over there. Best moment was when much was made of Ouvaroff’s having graduated from the French Culinary Institute, only to have a member say, “I don’t see anything French on the menu.” (On one hand, that’s not the point of the French Culinary Institute; on the other, did he go there so he could make burgers, fried chicken, nachos, and hot dogs? The menu reads like a list of Foods You Eat to Sop Up Liquor.) They got 1 a.m. on weeknights and 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday, with the assurance that if they prove to be good neighbors they’ll get more in six months. With a capacity of 225, this has the potential to be a nuisance to the folks who live around there. Those are the dinner menus above. Click to enlarge, baby.

Something hugely intriguing is happening at 58 Lispenard, in the old Pearl Paint frame shop. The proprietors, restaurant designers Scott Kester and David Lefkowitz, say they have a “four-star chef from California” helping to launch the place. They didn’t say a lot more—other than it’ll be civilized but not fussy, and the menu will be “almost like tasting menus,” if less fussy, but still civilized* include pairings with classic cocktails—and no one asked. With closing hours of midnight and 1 a.m. the committee couldn’t really object. Passed 5–0. The menu is at left; while appealing, it offers few clues. *I received clarification after I posted this.

The Harrison and Cercle Rouge were approved.

Even though there’s a newsstand on the same block (on Greenwich, near Murray), a gentleman wants to open one that’s at Greenwich and Warren. One neighbor opposed it strenuously, but the committee saw no reason to. Passed 5–0.

Rabbi Zalman Paris of Chabad of Tribeca at 100 Reade presented the idea of installing a 12′ by 14′ sukkah in Duane Park from October 12 to 19. He said it would be open to the public as a bit of community cultural outreach; there would be no services. The committee wondered about whether it was appropriate* for a public park, but the vote was 2–1–2 (abstentions went unexplained), so it failed. The full board may very well overrule it, although by that point it may be hard for the project to move forward in time. * Not that anyone asked, but no, it’s not. And if you do allow it, where do you draw that line? Because so help me, I’ll be applying for a permit for the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

White & Church’s changes to its liquor license and Yves Jabot’s liquor-license application for 279 Church.

As a very late addition to the agenda, residents of 275 Greenwich who are aggravated by Kaffe 1668 opposed the renewal of its liquor license. The residents—there were two at the meeting, and one who emailed—say that the café is a “blight” on residents, “obstructionist” when it comes to dealing with minor matters, and “abusive” to the building’s staff, using “foul language.” The café has evidently done construction on at least one occasion late at night, and drilled into the façade without permission. The committee, while sympathetic even without hearing the other side, explained that this wasn’t really their domain.


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