Laughing Man still serving beer and wine

Thought I would just check in on the status of Laughing Man’s liquor license since I have received a few emails about it and since it’s been a topic at the CB1 licensing committee over several months this fall. The most recent update direct from the SLA: “184 Duane St. currently has a temporary operating permit, however their actual restaurant wine license is still pending.”

In August, owner David Steingard was able to get a waiver from Community Board 1 and the SLA for the bathroom: there is only one, and bar regulations require two. (The capacity inside is 70.) But in September, the board, in reaction to neighbors’ complaints, would only allow the coffee shop to serve till 9p on weekdays and 10p on weekends, which, you know, is really early for a bar, even a quiet one. David would not accept those stipulations.

“I am trying to create a quiet place for beer and wine similar to what we have during the day,” David said. “I am catering to locals — the same people you have in the morning.” Of course, you can’t ask for a drivers license to prove residency, but I get what he is saying…

I did learn a few things: the curbside seating that David created in 2015 through the now-defunct Department of Transportation Street Seats program was originally open to all; you did not have to be a patron of Laughing Man to sit there. However, once the covid-era Open Restaurants program began, that setup was bequeathed to Laughing Man only. David says he does not enforce it — that he keeps it open to all in the spirit with which it was created. But it does allow for Laughing Man to have its own curbside setup.

He did note that people cannot carry their drinks outside, but I don’t see how that is illegal since other bars do it — Puffy’s, Weatherup, The Hideaway across the street, even the Patriot before it closed. But later in the meeting he noted that they would “serve” drinks there. (Is that the difference? Table service vs. bar service?)

And there’s the rub: neighbors were most concerned about the crowds and the noise already on the sidewalk and seating area (signs of success, I have to note) going into the night and with alcohol as the social lubricant instead of caffeine. “Having the sidewalks blocked 7 am to 7 pm is one thing. Expanding that to use the street seats outside until 12a will create different issues,” said one neighbor. “With success,” said another neighbor, “comes responsibility.”

So we have it on the record here, David has addressed the rats: the planters are now sealed and no longer have dirt, and he has an exterminator come once a month. Lucian Reynolds from CB1 has even come by to inspect things. But that didn’t seem to ameliorate the complaints about double parked cars, triple parked strollers and dogs wandering into the restaurant. Hours are still posted as Monday to Thursday, 6:30a to 6p; Friday to Sunday, 7a to 7p.


1 Comment

  1. LM’s outdoor setup is one of the dirtiest in the neighborhood and badly needs to be cleaned/rebuilt. And it’s long past time to create an open street on Duane btw Greenwich/Hudson already. People outnumber cars 100 to 1 over there. Silly to be fighting over the measly sidewalk space when the street is huge and barely trafficked. Lastly, to complete my rant, what’s the deal with the scaffolding on the townhouse next to the Armoury? Been up for years (decades?) with zero progress.