Quality Eats Ludlow Denied by CB3, Despite LES Dwellers Endorsement

Posted on: April 19th, 2016 at 5:00 am by
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Quality Eats tasted raw defeat last night.

Community Board 3 voted, in a tiebreaker situation no less, to deny the Stillman steakhouse a full liquor license for a spinoff location at 177 Ludlow Street. Theirs was a holdover application after last month’s withdrawal. Yet, in an ironic turn of events, the restaurant applicant that the LES Dwellers emphatically supported for Hell Square was denied in a heartbreaker vote by Community Board 3.

From the outset, all signs seemed to point to approval. Residents in the building wanted the Quality Eats outpost, and the principals even had the endorsement of the LES Dwellers (apparently they met “exhaustively”). The fact that the block association entered a memorandum of understanding with the principals (e.g. truncated hours and closed windows) was championed as gateway to green light, since they’re on the front lines and tend to do battle with most nightlife newcomers.

That came to a screeching halt, though.

Opposition germinated from within the committee, with chair Alex Militano having pointed out the lack of public benefit with 52 OPs already in 500 feet. How being a big-name restaurant group on the Lower East Side is no longer unique (just look across the street to Dirty French at Ludlow Hotel).

District Manager Susan Stetzer chimed in to call out the terrible congestion situation along upper Ludlow. It being a “totally overwhelmed block,” not just with liquor, but with garbage overflow and traffic bottlenecks.

The most passionate voice of descent came from CB3 board member Enrique Cruz. He made it a point to highlight the landlord behind this retail space, and that the panel take that into consideration when making the motion. Yes, 177 Ludlow Street is owned by Samy Mahfar, a hated man in these parts thanks to his ongoing harassment tactics. In so many words, Cruz noted that “Samy Mahfar shouldn’t be rewarded yet again.” In this case for causing the jettison of EarthMatters and setting up the space for nightlife (100 Montaditos already failed).

The board was deadlocked over the applicant. In the end, though it came down to a tiebreaker vote from CB3 chair Gigi Li to settle the denial. (She wasn’t there to hear the full testimony.)

Now it’s probably on to the State Liquor Authority, where its chances of success are further diminished. The state usually sides with CB3 in this particular saturated area.

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