Two Refused By Liquor License Panel

Community Board 3 SLA Committee Meeting Liz Wagner Audience members at last night’s meeting of the State Liquor Authority committee of Community Board 3 listen as the panel refused to support a pair of license requests.

A Community Board panel Monday night refused to lend its support to plans to reopen two bars on Avenue A, despite pre-emptive efforts by business owners to smooth things over with East Village residents fed up with noisy nightlife in their neighborhood.

The State Liquor Authority Committee, which helps regulates liquor licenses in the East Village for Community Board 3, declined to lend its support to an application for the new space at 34 Avenue A, formally Aces & Eights, saying the area already has enough bars.

The committee also deflected a request from the owner of the former Superdive space at 200 Avenue A, explaining that the board had initially approved a license at that location for a bookstore or cafe. The State Liquor Authority subsequently permitted a change to let tenants apply for a liquor license, but the committee wants to stick with the board’s original decision.

While the committee’s decision is non-binding and is officially considered a recommendation – the final word on a license requests is made by the State Liquor Authority – the panel’s support of license applications is considered a crucial step toward their ultimate approval.

With the moves Monday night, committee members sided with residents, who for years have complained about excessive noise from customers at the bars on their streets. Some locals attended informal meetings called by the new proprietors last week to share their plans, but many said the owners did not sufficiently acknowledge their concerns about potential noise issues.

“We’re not against new businesses,” said Dale Goodson, who lives on Avenue A. “It’s just until the pendulum swings back the other direction and we get some kind of balance and sanity, its hard for us to entertain anything that wants to come in and wants a liquor license.”

The board’s decision infuriated Jevin Damadian, who took over the space at Aces & Eights, and agreed to sound-proof the premises and scale back late-night hours to 2 a.m. on the weekend and 1 a.m. during the week.

“For these people to just run me out of town without even hearing me is disgusting,” Mr. Damadian said referring to the committee’s refusal to let him speak before it made its decision.

Mr. Damadian said he gathered 1,500 signatures in support of the bar and plans to fight the committee’s decision. His business partner, Paul Wilson, said the men would not consider opening anything without a liquor license.

“What do you want, a funeral home?” Mr. Wilson said. “The middle of the lower east side is the coveted spot for nightlife. And we would have done it right.”

Han Kao, the owner of the former Superdive space said he didn’t want to comment on the committee’s decision, adding “its a really sensitive issue right now.”

Earlier in the night, talk of Diablo Royale Este — a restaurant at 169 Avenue A — fueled bickering between owner Jason Hennings and residents. Carrying signs that said, “Not in my backyard!” and “North Avenue A Says No More!” residents urged the committee to pass a resolution forbidding the use of the building’s rear yard.

Residents argue that the backyard stays open later than the agreed upon closing times of 10 p.m. during the week and 11 p.m. on weekends. They also say the place is excessively loud and too crowded, with groups of people spilling out onto the street.

“They represented they would be a family-friendly Mexican restaurant and they are operating nothing but a lounge,” said Andrew Coamey, who lives above the establishment.

Mr. Hennings called what residents said, “blasphemous lies,” and welcomed the authority to investigate his restaurant.