As Fragrance Shop Reopens, Porsena Vies for Its Old Digs

Photos of Fragrance Shop New York by Vivienne Gucwa

As shown in the slideshow above, Lalita Kumut’s Fragrance Shop New York has reopened on East Fourth Street, just in time for Valentine’s Day. Meanwhile, a high-profile restaurant located next to the shop’s former home on East Seventh Street plans to take over the newly vacant space.

Porsena, the Italian spot that chef Sara Jenkins of Porchetta opened in 2010, wants to expand next-door. But at a meeting of Community Board 3’s S.L.A. Licensing committee last night, residents fearful of the din caused by an exhaust fan spoke out against the move.

DESCRIPTIONStephen Rex Brown Fragrance Shop’s former home.

Helayne Seidman, who has lived on the block for 32 years, explained that when Ms. Jenkins moved into her current space at 21 East Seventh Street, she updated everything but the old exhaust fan. “It really disturbs me and a lot of other neighbors on St. Marks and Seventh Street,” she complained, adding that she has to put on a sound machine in order to watch T.V. “It interferes with all our sleep,” she said.

The neighbor – one of two who spoke out at the meeting – claimed that she had sent numerous e-mails about the fan to Ms. Jenkins, but received little response.

Standing before Ms. Seidman and the licensing committee, Ms. Jenkins explained her silence. “With the expansion, I asked the architect to take a new look,” she said. “I’m trying to understand what my options are before responding to you.”

The committee ultimately recommended an approval of the expansion, which won’t include a new kitchen, but said it would not endorse Porsena’s extended operating hours – nightly until 2 a.m. – until it fixed the exhaust fan’s noisy flaw.

Meanwhile, at her new home at 65 East Fourth Street, Ms. Kumut, who left the space next to Porsena earlier this month, was happy to have secured a seven-year lease after worrying for months that she wouldn’t be able to find a space for her 20-year-old aromatherapy shop.

“I’m really happy, I love it,” she said.

Fragrance Shop New York will be open Mondays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesdays through Saturdays from noon to 8 p.m., and Sundays from 1 to 7 p.m.