Neighbors Nix Raccoon Lodge Spinoff

Tara of TribecaAt last night’s meeting of the Community Board 1 Tribeca Committee, residents from buildings on Warren, Murray, and Broadway persuaded the committee to vote against a liquor license for the Lodge, the Raccoon Lodge spinoff at 20 Warren.

Attorney Richard Yellen (at right in pic), who is also one of the three principals behind the Lodge, started out by claiming that Raccoon Lodge is a place where “people from different walks of life can meet and exchange ideas,” going so far as to call it a “cultural institution” and dragging in 9/11. When presented with video evidence that the Raccoon Lodge’s patrons gather noisily outside, he attempted a pivot, arguing that the Lodge is a new establishment. Indeed, the new bar’s connections to the current one remain somewhat unclear; the other principals are Derek Michalak (at left in pic), who has been the bar’s manager for the last five and a half years, and a man named Ewan Palmer. Later, when there was talk of a compromise, Yellen said that the three of them couldn’t agree to anything on the spot, because they had other partners they’d have to run it by (even though the three of them are the only principals listed on the application). As he explained here, the Raccoon Lodge’s owner, Ace Navorro, will have no involvement in the Lodge.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Yellen pointed out that the Raccoon Lodge has received very few 311 complaints over the years and insisted that the Lodge would be a “gastropub with high-end food”; they’re partnering with a “well-known chef in Miami.” And he said that they simply won’t be able to survive with closing hours of midnight (Sunday through Thursday) and 1 a.m. (Friday and Saturday), as CB1 generally requires on side streets. (Horrifyingly, Michalak said that 30% to 40% of the Raccoon Lodge’s business is after 1 a.m.) The application requested 4 a.m. closing seven days a week, but Yellin said they could accept 2 a.m. “Tara of Tribeca had midnight and 1 a.m. and it lasted four months,” he said, ignoring the myriad other factors contributing to that bar’s demise.

Neighbors, many of whom brought children and petitions from their buildings, simply weren’t having it. Their main points: There are already a huge number of liquor licenses within 500 feet (they said 10, but there are actually more like 20). A ton of kids live in the buildings next door or directly across the street. Smoke from patrons gathering outside will go straight up into their apartments, as they know from when 20/Twenty was in that location. Noise will be an issue, because even the corporate types leaving events at New York Vintners can be heard loitering boisterously. “We’re doing you a favor!” announced one resident. “Location is everything and this is a dud! The landlord is a dick—”

I’m the landlord!” yelled a man in the corner.

So that was a highlight. The issue is that even when CB1 rejects a liquor license, the applicant can go straight to the State Liquor Authority, which might decide that having a bar there is in the public interest—and it might also agree to a 4 a.m. closing. This particular case is even more complicated, because Tara of Tribeca tried just that, and neighbors and CB1 members requested that the SLA limit Tara to midnight and 1 a.m.—so what exactly has changed about the location that now CB1 doesn’t want liquor there at all? (Nothing. Neighbors are just better organized and generally fed up.) Ultimately, the committee voted 8-0 to reject the application, including in the resolution that should the SLA decide to grant a liquor license anyway, perhaps it could stick to midnight and 1 a.m.

Neighbors were advised to show up at the full CB1 meeting at 6 p.m. on May 24 at Gibney Dance (280 Broadway, enter at 53A Chambers) and to speak up during the public comments at the beginning of the session, because the full board has occasionally decided to overturn committee votes. And they’ll also want to keep an eye on upcoming State Liquor Authority hearings.

Below: The Lodge’s proposed menu and floor plan, and photos of the space as it looks now.

The Lodge menuThe Lodge floor plan The Lodge dining room The Lodge bar


  1. Great article as always, thanks Erik. A couple of things, Most restaurants make a larger portion of their money after midnight when restaurants close and both patrons and industry people (these are people that work in restaurants/bars – I defined this for the ignorant people that will read this) come in to unwind as it is their happy hour. Second, what exactly do these people want in that space? Do they want it to remain vacant? Do they want something they’re familiar with like back in Oklahoma like a Buffalo Wild Wings? These people are slowly destroying this neighborhood and this city with votes like this. I wish they would all go back to where they came from so I can enjoy my city once again.

    • The applicants mentioned the idea of appealing to restaurant workers getting off work late, but every time that idea comes up (and it always does when a bar asks for 4am), I wonder whether that’s really the case around here anymore.

      As someone who lives on the block in question, would I rather have that spot empty than a bar there? Of course. Places like the (Raccoon) Lodge are great—as long as you don’t live right near them.

  2. Yes, that was a great highlight of the evening!

    Also found it amusing that Yellen said Tribeca is loosing all its old school charming institutions to horrid luxury high-rise condos. BUT oh wait – He lives in Battery Park City which is only luxury high-rises. Maybe they should move The Lodge to BPC

  3. Hi Erik – The problem is that there are very few bars open until 4am so now industry people in Tribeca are left with Reade st Pub or Tribeca Tavern some of the few bars open till 4am. I’m sure the community board will find a way to ruin those too so we end up like the suburbs with chain restaurants and bars that close at 11pm. This way it won’t be too loud and too smoky for the precious children. Obviously this is not directed at you – thanks for always having the most up to date info on our neighborhood.

  4. Good article, I’m so sick of the snots in the neighborhood closing everything that was original and good, not everyone wants to go to Sarabeths and be in bed by 10pm. It’s time to move, Tribeca’s turned into a grotesque wealth sucking parody of itself.

    • Fact: it is the real-estate developers of that property who are closing the precious Raccoon Lodge, not the established residents of the community.
      Address the facts……

      • Thank you, neighbor, for pointing out the obvious. Some of the above just want to bash Tribeca families with children who don’t want a noisy bar with clientele who get drunk and fall out onto e street at all hours. The landlords are changing the dynamic. We just live here, people. My children are grown so I don’t have a horse in this race. But I live on Warren Street. I have for ten years. And I never saw the charm of the Raccoon Lodge. It had a cool sight, though. Neighborhoods change. If you want dive bars go to the Lower East Side. Or Murray Street. There are still quite a few there.

        • I am a Tribeca family with children, but the neighborhood I moved to was eclectic, fun and interesting. And if you define a dive bar by the generic rubbish on Murray Street, you really need to go out more….

  5. I work in the Tribeca area and frequents this bar, and it’s the highlight of my week. Reason being is that I can meet up with my business associates and fellow neighbors to enjoy a friendly controlled setting over drinks. But maybe now I Will buy a condo and move my kids from upstate suburban to TriBeCa so that we can all sleep in the city that never sleeps.!!!!!!!

  6. Catching up with this thread a little late. I have lived on the block in question for 16 years and have lived in this city for 30…no one would mind a bar if it didn’t involve blaring music and drunk people rolling out of it in the late hours … or groups of smokers making a lot of noise in front of people’s doorsteps…which IS what happens at RL in the later hours. We’re just people living our lives … really resent the vitriol and the idea that if we don’t want to hear what’s going on at RL in our living rooms that we’re somehow “destroying” Tribeca or are “snots” who should move out of town. So yeah, we’re fighting to keep RL off our block. We lived through 20/20 and we’re committed to seeing this through. Get over it.