The War Over American Flatbread Is Heating Up


UPDATE 4/24: I just spoke with Tribeca Rooftop owner Billy Reilly, who said in no uncertain terms that he is abandoning the plan to open an event space at the American Flatbread location at Hudson and Desbrosses. Instead, he’s looking at looking at different restaurant options. And he has zero interest in the Mr. Locks storefront next door, despite the report mentioned below. (Of course, Mr. Locks could still very well be getting squeezed out by a rent increase.) Consequently, there will likely be no discussion of the American Flatbread venue at the May meeting of Community Board 1’s Tribeca Committee. “I personally don’t believe that catering would be as bad as the neighbors would,” he said. “But I’m listening to all their concerns and acting appropriately. I didn’t have that meeting not to listen to them! I’ve been here for 18 years, and I’m trying to be a good neighbor.” He also said that when he has a new concept lined up for the American Flatbread space, you’ll read about it here first—so stay tuned.


As you may recall, the owner of American Flatbread is hoping to turn it into an event space not unlike his two others in the same building (Tribeca Rooftop and Three-Sixty). From the March Unofficial CB1 Minutes:

Neighbors were out in full force to oppose the conversion of American Flatbread (at Hudson and Desbrosses) into a catering venue. That’s because they already have many, many complaints about the applicant’s two other catering facilities in the same building (Tribeca Rooftop and Three Sixty)—both of which can handle around 700 guests, and regularly do on the same evening, so adding capacity for 220 more is unappealing, to say the least. And American Flatbread’s liquor license allows for closing of 2 a.m. on weekdays and 3 a.m. on weekends, which wasn’t an issue when the restaurant was around because it died out early. The main issue is traffic: buses and livery cars jamming up Desbrosses (there’s no standing on Hudson) and other streets, idling, drivers behaving badly. A secondary, but messier, issue is the behavior of guests, who tend to leave simultaneously, loudly, and drunkenly. […] The application for the American Flatbread space mentioned a dance floor, with live music or DJs.

A month later, American Flatbread hosted a meeting with nearby residents and other concerned parties to discuss the situation. The folks I spoke with who attended said that Tribeca Rooftop owner Billy Reilly appeared willing to consider other ideas for the space (whether anyone else wants to rent a location with minimal foot traffic is another question).

An email from a nearby property manager was just forwarded to me. It included this, from an attendee of the meeting:

In speaking with Billy’s lawyer afterwards, I learned the following. Billy does not intend to do anything but catering despite his listening to all the ideas. They believe that there is no record of any complaint whatsoever about [Tribeca Rooftop] or 360 with the police, 311, or the SLA, and thus all the complaints they heard last night are hearsay. […]  Lastly, they believe they can do what they want without getting this new license (it is true, however, they would prefer to have it be a strict catering license so they do not have to operate a restaurant, which is why his lawyer argued we had “some leverage”). I get the sense that they had this meeting to go through the motions but they are going to propose the same plan at the CB1 meeting with nominal concessions like they will limit the size of parties and reduce the horrific hours during the week/weekend to slightly less horrific hours.

And perhaps more interesting, this:

The superintendent at a nearby building spoke to the owner of Mr. Locks on Canal. Apparently, Mr. Locks is getting squeezed out of his space by Tribeca Rooftop…. We could be looking at an even bigger event space [if American Flatbread were to annex it].

Evidently, there was a raucous event the very next night after the meeting:

8:45/9 p.m.
• Lines of loud and boisterous guests filing into Tribeca Rooftop for a party.
• Men urinating on the street.

11:30 p.m.
• Drunk young women leaving Tribeca Rooftop and then standing in the middle of Hudson street trying to catch cabs.
• One young woman is so intoxicated, an ambulance needs to take her out on a stretcher.
• One young man is so high that his friend is trying to calm him down in the alley of 195 Hudson.  After a 195 Hudson resident went downstairs to check on things, the young man began accusing same resident of killing his mother, ruining his life, etc. The man then raced into the lobby of 195 Hudson, pushing the doorman aside and had to be restrained by same resident until the police arrived.

The email included the video below—not sure whose it is—which shows the crowds and urinators.

It seems pretty disingenuous to declare that groups of 700 people won’t be disruptive, and the video certainly makes that case. But to make a difference with the State Liquor Authority, you must complain to 311 and keep a record of the complaint number. It is the only complaint that matters. If you don’t relish the thought of dealing with a 311 operator late at night, you can register a complaint online (although I’m not 100% sure you end up with a complaint number).

The matter is expected to be brought back up at CB1 Tribeca’s May meeting, which will probably be May 13 at 6 p.m.



  1. From the State Liquor Authority website:

    “Complaints of violations are not only received by the SLA from police, but are also received from numerous other sources, including governmental agencies, citizens’ representatives, community groups and individual complainants.

    “Register a Complaint by Phone
    If you would like to make a complaint about an establishment or have questions on enforcement issues, please call (518) 474-3114 and select option 2.

    “Register a Complaint Online
    If you would like to register an on-line complaint with the Authority you can do so via our Complaint Registration Form[:]”

  2. I have used 311 in the past to have a broken traffic light repaired by the DOT. The DOT kept reporting that they had fixed the light. The operators at 311 were extremely helpful and gave me tips on how to elevate the request after I did not get results. Make sure you keep track of your complaint number. Whoever gets your file next can call it up and see if any action was taken.