Bikinis Faces Wave of Opposition; Superdive Space, Too

Stephen Rex Brown Future home of Bikinis.

Two items proved contentious at a meeting of Community Board 3’s liquor licensing committee last night: Neighbors got their bottoms in a bunch over Bikinis, a sandwich shop that had been vying for a controversial backyard space. And the new project in the former Superdive space got the committee’s thumbs-down once again.

First, the good news: At 116 Avenue C, the owners of popular newcomer Edi and the Wolf are opening a new Austrian tavern. Transfer of the existing full liquor license quickly and easily got the committee’s support. Also: Angelica Kitchen, which had been illegally allowing customers to bring their own bottles, got a vote of support for its first wine and beer license, which the owners said would help it resume BYOB service.

Meanwhile a “simple ground-floor sandwich shop,” as a representative described it, due to open at 56 Avenue C didn’t have such an easy time of it. The owners of Bikinis, which will serve the like-named Spanish sandwiches, made clear that the backyard they had previously expressed interest in using was off the table for the moment. But eleven community members lined up to protest anyway, some insisting the noise from the supermarket recycling machines on the corner and the oft-overpowering music and revelry from Nublu was already unbearable.

The ire toward Nublu surfaced again and again. Resident David Morrison said in a prepared letter, “I have two daughters, seven and ten, and many nights they cannot sleep, even with the windows closed and the AC on.” In separate letters, his daughters agreed.

Tom Hughes, who lives on Avenue C with his wife and son, said, “The backyard till 10 p.m. every night plus a takeout business is going to make our apartment basically unlivable. My 6-year-old goes to bed at 7:30 p.m. I am terrified of never sleeping again.” Claps rang out when he ended his statement by saying, “This will be the end of us living in this building.”

Resident Francesca Grassi told the worried crowd that the owners of Bikinis had been in cahoots with Nublu for a long time, sometimes there. Bikinis countered that the music and art community in the East Village is a very connected one and these kinds of associations happen all the time.

Three residents spoke in favor of Bikinis. “Café culture is the reason we all live in New York,” said one of them.

“This is a simple restaurant,” said the establishment’s lawyer. “It does have an extensive menu to corroborate that it is a restaurant.”

In the end, the board voted to support the wine-and-beer license at Bikinis on the condition that it stay out of the backyard for at least two years and close its doors at midnight seven days a week.

The former Superdive space at 200 Avenue A was another battleground. Residents seemed at best wary and at worst outraged about another establishment – an art gallery with a full liquor license – with questionable need for a liquor license applying there.

Andrew Coamey, the Avenue A resident last seen going up against Diablo Royale, spoke out here as well. “This would be the 57th license on Avenue A. We can’t possibly tolerate another bar.” He pointed the finger at Michael Taub, saying that the space’s landlord must have known that Rapture Café & Books, which once inhabited the space, was becoming a bar and he let it happen. “We should not reward him with a liquor license,” said Mr. Coamey.

James Hanson was among those who voiced a desire for something new in the space as an alternative to the abundance of bars. “These types of places actually destroy the quality of life,” he said.

The art gallery’s application is essentially the same as the one that the board previously refused to support, but with earlier closing hours – 2 a.m. instead of 4 a.m. – from Wednesday through Saturday. The board once again recommended that the State Liquor Authority reject the application.