Buddha Bar Gets the Boot

Buddha Bar at CB1For 90 minutes last night, Community Board 1’s Tribeca Committee weighed Buddha Bar’s plan to open a 12,500-square-foot outpost on Thomas Street. Normally, these contentious liquor-license discussions end in a negotiation over stipulations regarding closing hours, sound insulation, and such. Last night was different: The committee voted 7-0 to reject the application. (The full Unofficial Minutes will follow later today.)

The majority of the discussion was about the fears of neighbors—who turned out in force, with their children—that Buddha Bar will inevitably go the way of its predecessors, Obeca Li and Megu, and even before that, the traffic, honking, smoking, and loitering will be a life-ruining nuisance. Buddha Bar’s reps insisted that this franchise will be a pan-Asian restaurant, not a nightclub, and not like the other Buddha Bars around the world that post lots of dancing and partying photos on social media. Residents, naturally, wondered why the owner [standing in the center, above] would license this brand if it didn’t want to capitalize on everything it stands for.

What seems like a victory for the residents, however, could turn out to be pyrrhic: Community Board 1’s role is advisory, and while the State Liquor Authority usually takes its recommendations into consideration, applicants have occasionally gotten what they want—and even more than they ask the community board for. The point was made quite clearly by CB1 members that neighbors will have to show up at the State Liquor Authority hearing, if and when Buddha Bar goes to the SLA. That way, even if the SLA agrees to the license, they can still argue for stipulations.

Note: In the CB1 notification posted in the window of 62 Thomas, Buddha Bar says it plans to open in late 2016.

Buddha Bar posting