‘World War III at C.B. 3,’ As Jane’s Sweet Buns Gets The Nod for Wine and Beer

Community Board 3Emily Canal The SLA and DCA Licensing Committee. Ariel Palitz and Alexandra Militano, second and third from left. David McWater, third from right.

Last night, a rancorous debate between committee members exposed the internal tensions of Community Board 3’s SLA and DCA Licensing Committee, as Jane’s Sweet Buns, a pastry shop that opened on St. Marks Place this summer, managed to clinch the board’s support for a beer and wine license application. A Southern restaurant on Avenue C and a Mexican newcomer on Avenue B also got nods from the board.

The tension began at the start of the meeting when Susan Stetzer, the board’s District Manager, asked those present to abstain from eating or drinking anything but water. She said people complained about messes after meetings.

“I’m not going to sit here for six hours and not have anything to eat or drink,” Mr. McWaters said, adding, “I won’t spill.”

The banter heated up as bakers from Jane’s Sweet Buns pleaded for a beer and wine license in hopes of serving sherry and the like. Ms. Militano was concerned about adding another license to a block that was already heavy with them (one resident read an open letter pointing out that “there are more places to get a pastry then to get a hammer or a pair of shoes”). She was also concerned about the hours of operation.

“If there is a market out there for people to have port with a cupcake at 1 a.m., God bless America,” Mr. McWater said, to audience applause. Mr. McWater owns three bars in the area.

As it turned out, Jane Danger, a partner in the operation, was happy to agree to close at midnight on weekdays and at 2 a.m. on weekends. “We’re bakers,” she said. “We can’t stay up that late anyway.”

The board’s ultimate decision to support the application, which is now in the hands of the State Liquor Authority, didn’t quiet Mr. McWater, who was upset that negative notes were being entered into the record. “When we have a motion against, we should also include the positive representations that were made about that establishment, which you categorically refuse to do,” he said.

Ms. Militano said she would not call on him to speak again, but he pressed on.

“You can’t build a consensus over a beer and wine license – which one of us is the screw-up here?” said Mr. McWater. “Have you looked in a mirror lately?”

Ms. Militano retorted, “David, you’re really misbehaving. I’m asking you to behave like a member of the community – ”

“I’m asking you to behave like a chair,” Mr. McWater shot back. “You’re the chair, your committee voted, now you support that vote regardless of your personal opinion.” He added, “And when I was a board chair I did not run a committee like a Fascist.” Mr. McWater was previously chair of the Land Use, Zoning, Public & Private Housing committee.

“World War III at C.B. 3,” Ariel Palitz, a community board member, said later, laughing. Ms. Palitz, who is also the owner of Sutra, also ran afoul of Ms. Militano when, during a discussion about another application, she launched into a monologue about allowing restaurant entrepreneurs to pursue their dreams.

“That was patronizing,” Ms. Militano said. “We do [this] because we have an invested interest in people’s communities.”

Ravi DeRossi, a partner in Jane’s Sweet Buns, said he wasn’t concerned about the comments from a community member, but was shocked about the argument between board members. He thought the need for his establishment was obvious. “There are like six wine and dessert places in all of Manhattan and the one in the East Village is packed every night of the week,” Mr. DeRossi said, presumably referring to ChikaLicious Dessert Bar.

Roberto Santibanez, owner of forthcoming Park Slope transplant Fonda, also received the community board’s support for a full liquor license during the meeting, and said he was eager to open his restaurant at 40 Avenue B in several weeks.

Keedick Coulter, 33, received support for an application to serve beer and wine at his new Southern restaurant, Bobwhite Lunch and Supper Counter at 94 Avenue C. The Roanoke native has not owned a restaurant before, but hopes to showcase sustainable agriculture and organically grown food.

“There are great places that have blazed a really incredible trail for those things, but it really is something only a small slice of America can enjoy,” Mr. Coulter said. “I’m trying to offer things that are a different price point.”