Rumor: ‘Mini Rex’ Dry Karaoke Concept Banking on CB3 for Re-vote at Tonight’s Meeting

Posted on: April 25th, 2017 at 9:15 am by


For Mini Rex, the struggle to establish a “dry karaoke” bar on Ludlow Street continues. Despite defeat. You’ll recall that the concept, co-founded by Edouard Gave and Karin Elgai, includes conjoined venues that would include separate entrances for sober and drinking patrons. Different wrist stamps for each side, but booze could be consumed in all the spaces.

The Mini Rex proposal to purchase the assets of Leftfield was denied by the SLA subcommittee (4-3) in a late-night vote ten days ago. And after a board-forced withdrawal last month. Word on the street now is that the fight might resume at the CB3 full board meeting later tonight.

Sources tell us that there is a strong probability that the denial resolution will be “pulled,” and brought out to the floor for a re-vote. Leftfield needs this approval to happen, especially since its disciplinary hearing before the State Liquor Authority is tomorrow (i.e. regarding possible revocation of license; see below). Any bumps in the road could potentially cost it the chance of selling off its business for the valuable key fee. (The hearing addresses, among other things, that Leftfield “failed to comply with conditions, stipulations, or agreements upon which the license was issued.”)

If the Mini Rex proposal is in fact pulled and overturned, it would further demonstrate CB3’s complicity in area over-saturation of liquor licenses. Arguing that a half-sober bar is a public benefit to the neighborhood because it offers safe haven for struggling addicts is bunk. The stimulus and temptation to drink would still be prevalent; unless the premises is 100% sober, this type of setup just seems likely to trigger relapse.

To that end, we reached out to the LES Dwellers block association, which has been fighting this application tooth-and-nail since Mini Rex first filed with CB3. Founder and Director Diem Boyd informed us that they’ve been discussing the issue of “sober bars” with Stephanie Campbell, Acting Executive Director of Friends of Recovery NYC, who says this karaoke bar may actually be harmful to recovering addicts:

Without being a 100% sober environment, recovering addicts may feel a sense of depravation and exclusion– like they are missing out on all the fun and drinking. This may trigger the desire to drink (and use drugs if this was part of the addiction), not dissuade it. Also, entering an area like the Lower East Side where nightlife and drinking is prevalent may be very challenging to sobriety.

This is like making the argument that having non-smoking and smoking sections in the same room reduces cancer rates among those in the room.

Remember, also, that this is a block of Ludlow Street that already counts The DL, which has proven itself time and again as terrible for the community.


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