Notes from CB3: The Back Room Operating Illegally, Sakamai Nets Approval

Posted on: June 9th, 2015 at 5:00 am by
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Last night’s Community Board 3 subcommittee meeting for SLA saw more than a dozen applicants and their entourages fill the shoebox-sized office space on East 4th Street. The stakes were high, as per usual, with established businesses and noobs queued to kiss ass for approval. Emotions ran high, at times, and some juicy gossip was revealed.

Let’s dive head first…

The Back Room, 102 Norfolk Street

The Back Room opened back in 2004 in the subterranean space previously known as Lansky Lounge. Last night, ownership sought approval for a license renewal. While it received thumbs up from the panel, a number of damning revelations were memorialized in the updated stipulations appended to the license.

Embattled Mahfar tenants of 102 Norfolk Street (yeah, that one) joined forces with the LES Dwellers to provided a united front of opposition. Neighbors are tired of this ten-years-running nuisance, which actually started as rowdy-free lounge. The well-researched opponents revealed that there are some 127 complaints to 311 in the last five years (NYPD responded to 37), a hazardous secondary egress, dance events (i.e burlesque) without a cabaret license, and selling tickets to scheduled performances in an area not zoned for such (Speakeasy Dollhouse). More damning is that the Back Room operates in a manner “radically inconsistent with their license,” having changed their method of operation several times over the years without consulting the State Liquor Authority or CB3.

The resolution passed with the recommendation that the Back Room revert to its initial method of operation and that the SLA enforce as such.

Sakamai, 157 Ludlow Street

Sakamai debuted over two years ago, and has commanded respect from the community. It cashed in those assets last night while seeking approval for an alteration to the premises. The Japanese outpost already possesses a full liquor license, but wants to “migrate more toward a restaurant.” That means adding more seating for customers by reducing the footprint of bars on premise.

The board had zero qualms and approved the application.

Amuse Wine Bar, 121 Ludlow Street

Amuse Wine Bar wasn’t amusing anybody in the room with its bid to upgrade to full OP, for the second time within a year. The applicants didn’t do their homework, having conducted no outreach and provided zero signatures of support. CB3 lambasted the owners for providing an incomplete application while the LES Dwellers pointed out that the establishment is not adhering to its agreed-upon method of operation. The concept was conceived as a wine bar under the impression that it would not seek upgrade.

The applicants withdrew until next month to achieve better results. It’s unlikely, though. Amuse probably won’t last much longer in Hell Square.

Kingsley, 190-192 Avenue B

Roxanne Spruance had tried to open Kingsley in Nolita last year. Looks like she’s settling in Alphabet City instead. The chef-owner secured OP approval last night for the former Back Forty space on Avenue B. It certainly helped her cause that three supporters, including two in the building, had no problem with the application.

Spruance described Kingsley as Modern American “fine dining” that would be “chef driven.” (Aren’t all restaurants chef driven?) It’s pitched as sophisticated, yet approachable, featuring both a tasting menu and a la carte options. The chef noted how she’s in it for the long haul, having already signed a twelve-year lease on the space.

Kumo Sushi, 214 1st Avenue

Here was another scenario where CB3 approved a problem-child license renewal. Saki bomb slingers Kumo Sushi met stiff resistance from a panel who really didn’t want to reward a bad operator. But they did, presumably because the SLA usually rubber stamps renewals. Stipulations were included with the approval resolution to curtail some of the bad behavior, including the addition of sound mitigation recommendations.

Huertas, 107 1st Avenue

If the reactions last night were any indication, Huertas is certainly a popular restaurant. The board members even agreed. Ownership returned a year after its first upgrade application was denied. This time, however, proved successful; there is no change to the method of operation.

The resolution reaffirms existing stipulations.

Their literary agent was also in attendance (spoke in support), and let slip that a Huertas cookbook is also underway.

Other notes:

Root & Bone and BrickLane Curry House were both approved for sidewalk cafes. The Department of Consumer Affairs will now weigh in and assign a license where applicable.

Sarid Drory was a no-show for his purchase of Fat Baby.

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