Thursday, March 25, 2010

Life above Cabin Down Below

Last November, the Pizza Shop, which was next to Niagara on Avenue A and Seventh Street, closed due to high rents. Thereafter, people going to Cabin Down Below, the not-so-secret speakeasy accessed through the Pizza Shop, had to enter instead on East Seventh Street, descend the metal staircase in the alley and walk through the smoking patio into the bar. If you're new to all this, Cabin Down Below is big with the bold-faced name set (Drew Barrymore!) and has become a post-Standard Hotel destination...



Which brings us to our current story. This switch in entrances has made one East Village family's life miserable. The resident, who asked to remain anonymous, told me his story... on how he has lived in this location for 13-plus years with his wife...and hasn't really slept the last four of those months.

"We love our neighborhood. We love the park ... the restaurants ... our bodegas ... and all of the other things that we enjoy ... It is our home.

"But we have encountered a problem that has seriously affected our happiness and enjoyment of living where we do. It is a place called Cabin Down Below. We haven’t had a good night’s sleep in months.



"We live directly to the east of Niagara ... our bedroom/bathroom wall is adjacent to the 'secret' stairs that lead to Cabin Down Below. This steel egress stairs are bolted directly to our building's wall. Basically, our headboard (and my kid's bed) is directly opposite this stair. So from 11:30 p.m. until 5 a.m. (and even 6:30 a.m. on Saturdays) all that we hear every 30 seconds are people trudging up and down these stairs. Imagine high heels drunkenly plodding up and down these stairs, about 6 to 8 inches away from your head. Trust me -- turning on our two white noise makers, our fans, our AC ... ear plugs, iPods... NOTHING can drown out the sound of footsteps on steel stairs."

"We can't sleep at night. Simple as that."



"And Niagara/Cabin Down Below didn’t use these stairs (except on rare occasions) until the Pizza Shop closed. After 13 years, we have grown accustomed to the live bands, people yelling outside our windows, cigarette smoke pouring in our windows. We used to go out and make noise too, so we have shrugged all that off.

"But these stairs? It's a nightmare."

The resident has done the usual things in these situations...call 311, call the bar to complain, etc. Nothing has worked to date.

"If the owner would simply re-open the Avenue A 'secret' entrance to the Cabin, that would solve our problems. I don't want to kill their business. I am all for people having a good time. Smoke, drink, hook up -- do what you want. But when it keeps up me, my wife and my kid every night of the week, that is where I draw the line.

"We don't want to move to the suburbs. We want to raise our kid [in this neighborhood].

Since our initial exchange, the resident heard back from an owner of Niagara.

"I hope I wasn't being naive, but she sounded very concerned about the situation and promised to do something about it 'very soon.' ... she plans to replace the current steel stair treads with concrete treads. The stairs will be still be rigidly connected to our building's wall, but it should help. And if it doesn't....then we will go from there. In the meantime ... we will suffer until she makes the fix..."

18 comments:

Jeremiah Moss said...

nightmare. i'm amazed the owner is taking action--i hope they follow through.

Karate Boogaloo said...

There's also an entrance from inside of Niagara itself. I know...I DJ'd there from 97-2000.

ShatteredMonocle said...

It's not a secret when you see douche bags filing in and out. That's like the super secret PDT in Crif Dogs that tourists know about.

EV Grieve said...

Any helpful suggestions for the resident?

Karate Boogaloo said...

They should ask why the bar can't use the stairway inside of Niagara itself. I'm sure the bar's thinking is that they want people to think they're going to a different bar with it's own "secret" entrance, but it's all the same thing really.

Jeremiah Moss said...

i would really wonder about the legalities of having customers use an egress meant for emergency escape or for taking out trash--i.e., occasional use.

and manolos on those stairs? it's a lawsuit waiting to happen.

Anonymous said...

Has the person tried to contact the local community board or state liquor authority?

VH McKenzie said...

I think high heels will still clatter on concrete.

How about indoor/outdoor carpeting on the steps?

carefreemistress said...

If you want raise your child next door to a bar, then you have to live next door to a bar - the city does not exist to accommodate your needs.

Anonymous said...

well, it's accommodating somebody's needs. So who's is it?

E said...

A couple of well-timed buckets of water poured out of the window couldn't hurt. But seriously, there are many quieter corners in this neighborhood where you could raise your kid.

Anonymous said...

What about astroturf? SOunds funny, but they sell it at the hardware on 7th/1st. It may not look cool. I bet it would help muffle the high heels and it's weatherproof. That's much cheaper than putting in new stairs!

marjorie said...

yeah, she should totally move and leave this city to NYU students, bar-hoppers and bridge-and-tunnelers drunkenly yelling WHOOOO. we should make NYC into a fabulous Logan's Run where everyone over 30 is exterminated in The Carousel. (whoa, that cultural reference was even older than *i* am.)

look, her post makes clear that she isn't some prissy narcissist who wants to turn nyc into the burbs. she lived just fine for years next to the bar -- the stairs are the prob. as for "raise a kid somewhere else" -- well, a healthy city needs a lot of kinds of people -- kids, artists, people of different classes and backgrounds -- to thrive. living in a city full of amazing daily adventures and cheap nifty cultural opportunities, going to diverse public schools...i'd argue that growing up in the east village can help turn kids into mensch-y , broadminded adults. you know, the kind who are more open-hearted than some of the posters here. the kind you want caring for YOU in your old age, crankypants posters.

EV Grieve said...

Thanks, Marjorie — well said.

And Logan's Run! Classic!

VH McKenzie said...

Brilliantly said, marjorie. We're raising our two daughters in the EV and they are turning out to be precisely the kind of folks you describe.

They've learned to RESPECT their neighbors and expect it to be a 2-way street.

Anonymous said...

My boyfriend used to live on Norfolk St. when Lansky's decided to do the same thing and use an airshaft between 2 apartment buildings for their entrance instead of the decidedly less glamorous entrance through Ratner's on Delancey. The tenants in both buildings complained forever without success.

It really speaks to the selfishness and closed-mindedness of bar owners another when a perfectly good entrance/solution to noise complaints is available but is ignored so their (usually non-local) patrons can have an "experience".

I've used those stairs in Niagara plenty of times to go downstairs. What's wrong with Cabin folks using them now?

1WhoRemembers said...

The tenant should just pull a Colin Ferguson on the interlopers. That will take care of the issue once and for all. By the way, I grew up on Avenue D in the 60's and 70's and learned to trust and like noone (especially from the LES). So Marjorie's 'theory'/wishlist of oh happy-days' is all poppycock.

Anonymous said...

I have a kid in the neighborhood, but c'mon if you live next to Niagara and can't take the noise you should figure a way to move somewhere you and your family can sleep. You gotta make sacrifices when you have a kid and if you can't learn to sleep in the noise, then you gotta move. Can't always get "everything" you want. Stop whining. You're lucky to live in the L.E.S. enjoy it.