CB1 thwarts plans for a sports bar at 41 Murray

I really thought it was safe to assume that most folks around here are worried — maybe even panicked — about the plight of bars and restaurants and the increasing number of empty storefronts in the neighborhood. But you would never know that while listening to the CB1 Licensing Committee members put a 35-year business owner through the ringer. It was infuriating.

Barry Lipsitz, the owner of Flashdancers, formerly New York Dolls, has proposed a restaurant and sports bar for 41 Murray, the former Rosa Mexicano. (He owns the commercial condo there as well as 57 and 59 Murray.) The past two businesses in that space — his tenants — didn’t make it just on food alone, he noted, so he feels he needs to have an additional element to make it work. Anticipating issues, his lawyer noted that the windows would be closed at all times, and the TVs will not have volume. But the one thing Lipsitz said he had to have was the hours: till 2 on weekdays and 3 on weekends. The committee refused to grant him that.

“I won’t do the place if I can’t be open,” he said. “There’s no business, there’s no offices, there’s no hotels. I have to be able to build up some kind of following.”

The committee members complained in advance that he would have people waiting on the sidewalk — “where are they going to go when they can’t get their table?” — and that the hours he asked for were not something granted to unproven applicants. Instead, they gave him till 1 on the weekdays and 2 on the weekends. He balked.

“If I can’t have 2 o’clock on a weekday it’s just not worth it for me. I understand you have guidelines, but for me at this stage it’s too much of a struggle,” said Lipsitz, who has two sons in the hospitality business who will help run the place. “I am better off just trying to rent it out and whenever you get someone you’ll get someone. I respect your opinion, and I try to do the right thing for the neighborhood for all these years but it just won’t work for me.”

“You can cut your nose to spite your face,” said chair Susan Cole when he indicated he would have to walk away. But Lipsitz replied, “If that’s what you want to feel it is, but it’s really hundreds of thousands of dollars of investment.”

Lipsitz has run Flashdancers since 1987, and that business has a permit to operate until 4a. And over the decades, he has never had a single complaint — I know the CB1 Licensing Committee has testified to this themselves.

Committee members didn’t like the idea of a sports bar, the idea of late hours, the fact that no community members had showed for the meeting. They were sure the residents of 50 Murray would be upset about the idea.

When he said he would walk away, they were satisfied.

“It sounds like he’s made his decision. He wants to piggy back on something he already has and that’s not the way we work. You have to earn it for each property,” said one board member.

Later in the meeting they approved an unproven operator at 6 Stone St. for hours till 2, since there had been a bar there before with those hours.



  1. In normal times, I probably would have been opposed to the later hours. But these aren’t normal times, and may not be for a while. Nowadays, the idea of eyeballs on the streets until later hours seem like a welcome deterrent to crime. Coupled with the admitted fact that there were no issues for decades with the strip club, this seems like a loss for the neighborhood.

  2. Sad that it didn’t work out. A food truck takes at least $100K to get it running and for a restaurants it’s a lot more. The owner is right that a restaurant is hundreds of thousands of dollars of investment. If restaurants can only operate at 50% capacity it needs to increase their hours of operation to recoup that money. Pre-pandemic city has 23,000 restaurants, curious to know how many are left these days. I heard it’s 30% less but not sure if it is true. We need our businesses back for recovery and rebuild our economy.

  3. “Later in the meeting they approved an unproven operator at 6 Stone St. for hours till 2, since there had been a bar there before with those hours.”

    Really want to make sure people see this blatant hypocrisy. A shame, especially in the current state of affairs.

  4. CB1 is a joke. This community board will turn down an overly qualified operator and allow patron of the new shootings weekly.

    Do people from cB1 actually live in the neighborhood? I live in 50 Murray and these people never have any problems with anyone.

  5. This guy owns nearly every retail condo on the block. The fact he will self operate will most likely mean he wouldn’t trash his space or the neighborhood.

    What stops him from just leasing out to any other person with no track record?

    I really don’t understand the point of community boards. It seems like a bunch of older, out of touch Debbie downers who have say for no reason.

    I’m not for or against the applicant but if someone proves themselves for 35+ years I think they should get what they want. IMO

  6. So the neighborhood lost a tenant over 1 hour?

    So the neighborhood has ANOTHER vacant store front over 1 hour?

    What the hell is wrong with these people?

  7. I wonder if it was going to be a strip club/sports bar like Hoops cabaret in midtown. Perhaps that’s the rub.

    • He specifically said no. He has one of those already.

    • The Board needs to be replaced with a more forward thinking mix. It’s absurd with all of the empty spaces that something so generic as a sports bar would be turned down over a silly hour? These people are not qualified to be on the Board. How do I run to get on it?

      • You don’t run. Members are appointed by the borough president. The applications for 2021 were due in late February.

  8. All the negative comments about the community board and what they do (“Debbie downers”). But when the bar has people lined up on the sidewalk, or they come out of the bar at 2:00AM drunk and yelling, the first place you will go to is the CB. You may not like it, and many times I don’t, but its all you got. Put your application in to serve on the CB if you want change and do something for the neighborhood beside bitching on this web site.

    • Agree to disagree. This assumes every bar is operating at full capacity all the way up until closing time. Not every single bar owner operates the same way. I have lived on this street for 20+ years and none of these bars have this issue. There used to be issues with Uncle Mikes when the WTC was being built but since then it has been ultra quiet.

      I personally find comfort having a doorman of a bar semi patrolling the street. It’s an extra set of eyes to help prevent muggings or worse during this mayoral administration.

  9. In my view, the community board does important work. Unfortunately they face the challenge of all representation. The article notes that because no affected community members were present, they had to speculate on what the community members might want on their street or in their neighborhood.

    I know it’s a time commitment, but I have found it useful to attend CB meetings when I could, and weigh in on issues that I care about. In the times I did attend such meetings, I my sense was that CB members were doing the best they could to take care of the well-being of the neighborhood. (I don’t know any of them personally; this assessment just based on watching the Board meetings in action).

  10. As for bars, this is my own personal preference, and the rest of the community may agree or disagree, and thus the Board and State Liquor Authority may decide otherwise: I’d rather not have a lot of bars with late hours on otherwise generally quiet and primarily residential streets in Tribeca. I lived for years in such neighborhoods, and they had their own pros and cons, but moved to Tribeca to get away from that. I think it’s good that NYC neighborhoods vary in these ways, some more lively and late-night, some more quiet at night, so hopefully people can choose to live in a neighborhood that suits them (including their social lives and sleep schedules). But of course there are compromises, like having bars with some restrictions on hours and noise levels, patrons outside, etc. It seems to me that main community issues with bars are about the noise (if loud music), and then about behavior of patrons outside the bar.

    Of course, neighborhoods change, but my feeling is that the current residents should have some say and guidance in that evolution. So community boards are meant to represent that community voice.

  11. Restaurants and bars aren’t the problem down here. It’s the hip hop clothing stores where people are shot and robbed in broad daylight regularly (Patron of the new). CB1 can’t even fix this real issue. I agree with Michelle on this one.

  12. Happen to know Barry personally and he explained that the extra hour was to hopefully turn another round of dining tables. He felt that due to Covid and the lack of office / tourism for the next few years the 2am or 3am closing time could help ease the burden.

    Apparently most of his commercial tenants on the street advised this to him as well.

  13. They would prob try to put a club in that basement.

    • Community board 1 is the real plight to this neighborhood. How many times have we heard NO to a qualified operator? These nobody’s should have no business dictating from their rent stabilized apartments.

      Wake up NY! If we want to get our city back cut the red tape and let the free market work.

      Didn’t they just dismiss the F&B at the 456 Greenwich? Another beautiful project that can bring a lot of business back to the neighborhood. It’s also another family owned and operated hotel chain which means quality operators.

  14. The board must think that empty storefronts, dark sidewalks, and uninhabited blocks are safer and more pleasant for the neighborhood. Do yourself a favor and check history. It’s not.

    Please do yourself a favor and be open to change to reverse TriBeCa’s trend.

  15. I didn’t attend the licensing meeting, but reading these many comments I feel it’s important to point out: CB1 liquor license guidelines for Tribeca side streets are actually 12am Sun-Thurs, and 1am Fri-Sat. Applicants can return after a year of operations to ask for later hours.

    These guidelines were set approximately ten years ago, formalized from what had been working successfully if somewhat haphazardly for most residents and business owners. Some establishments were indeed recommended to the SLA for later hours after that one year period though in my 13 years on the board surprisingly most never asked. Some just said they were fine with what they had, that there was little profit in those later hours.

    The guidelines can stretch (in either direction) depending on the history or qualifications of the applicant, the nature of the specific area, and importantly the response from the immediate community. The SLA has been very supportive of CB1’s approach, citing it a number of times as one of the most reasonable Community Boards in the city.

    Applicants are also asked to post the immediate neighborhood with the basics of their business (method of operation, hours) 15 days in advance of the committee meeting. Some of the licensing attorneys make it their business to engage the community prior to an appearance.

    Pam is correct about Mr. Lipsitz’s history — in my experience there were no complaints about the business, (and the photos of scantily clad dancers displayed in the windows were readily removed after some young mothers expressed discomfort at such exposure to their kids).

    10-15 years ago most of the other “legacy” 4am bars on Murray (licenses from the days before Tribeca became so kid-friendly, residential and fashionable) were a constant source of complaints about under-age drinking, and rowdy, rude or loud patrons on the street, sometimes well after 4am. The slow change-over to newer bars and restaurants with earlier hours was welcome relief to the residents.

    So on Murray particularly I understand any reluctance to recommend right off the bat an extra three or even two hours to any new establishment, no matter the success of the owner at a very different type method of operation. That the committee offered 2am was a compromise. The absence of neighbors at the meeting does make me wonder if there were actually 15 days of postings? One resident I just spoke to, who in the past has been active in setting up lines of communication with applicants, was unaware of this app until Pam wrote it up.

    Finally, I think we all agree something needs to be done to get businesses and small building owners back on their feet. The Community Board is well aware of that and I’m sure would welcome constructive ideas and new public members. A lot of work and creative thinking needs to be done. But personally, like Marcus, I’m not sure accepting 3 and 4 am closing hours is helpful even if residents are willing to suffer until the businesses are stable. There is no way to claw back hours with the SLA once things improve.

  16. I have lived on Murray St since 1981. I am thrilled CB1 would not let this man have his way. We have had years of issues with people outside smoking, being loudly drunk, throwing up in our entrance way, and trashing the streets with cigarette butts and bottles. We are relieved that CB1 has standards now for bars so that these issues are kept under control. If it is a sports bar , what sports are played between 2 and 4 AM. The only sport happening at that hour is drinking. I applaud CB1 for making Murray St a much more livable street and keeping things under control for the residents.

  17. Personally don’t mind. Murray is eerily quiet at night time and can almost feel a tad sketchy. If the bar is operated properly it could be a plus to have additional eyes on the street.

  18. CB1 are a joke, this is NYC. we need soul not the suburbs. it has gone way too far!! this is just another example of power hungry people with nothing else to do. what do you think is going to happen to storefronts, covid testing

    • Kudos.

      I’m pretty sure that the majority of Cb1 DON’T even live in the neighborhood.

      • You have to live or work in the district to be a member of any community board. The district includes Tribeca, BPC, Fidi and the Civic Center/Seaport.