Monday, November 15, 2010
Diablo Royale Este owner blasts the 'blasphemous lies' of residents, invites the State Liquor Authority to investigate
A discussion of Diablo Royale Este prompted a heated exchange during tonight's CB3/SLA subcommittee meeting between owner Jason Hennings and Avenue A residents.
Hennings and his attorney were present to discuss a review of the stipulations that the bi-level Mexican-themed bar and eatery at 169 Avenue A agreed to upon being approved for a liquor license. The restaurant opened in May. Among other things, it is stated the bar must closes its 18x20 backyard space by 10 p.m. on weeknights and 11 p.m. on weekends.
Several Avenue A residents were on hand (many carrying signs reading "Northern Avenue A says No More") to discuss ongoing issues with the bar, including noise and overcrowding. (And several people brought up the Sept. 5 Boats 'N Hoes bash!) Residents also claim that the backyard stays open beyond its stated hours.
Several residents spoke in front of the committee about the crowds on the sidewalk. Avenue A resident Shawn Chittle recounted how he had to walk on Avenue A to catch the 14A because the sidewalks were so full. When he turned to look, the bus' rearview mirror clipped him in the forehead, causing a deep gash. Upon hearing this, Hennings was seen smiling, laughing and shaking his head, which prompted an angry reaction from Chittle.
Avenue A resident Andrew Coamey said that during the bar's Halloween party, Hennings allegedly approached him on the sidewalk ... that he would see him in 10 years and Coamey "would still be complaining about gentrification." At the time of the confrontation, Hennings was dressed as a gladiator.
After hearing a handful of residents speak out, Hennings called their claims "blasphemous lies." He apologized to the committee for being so upset, but that sitting there and hearing the residents was "angst provoking."
"I'm laughing at some of the stories that I hear." He said that not only does he own Diablo Royale Este, but he also manages the space. He estimates he's there 100 hours a week.
Hennings said that he has only ever received one complaint from residents. He said the Boats N' Hoes bash wasn't their party; that an NYU student had rented out the space and misled the bar on his intentions.
Hennings later singled out Coamey, who he described as a "full-time activist." Coamey quickly stood up and noted that the is the senior vice president for housing and chief financial officer of Housing Works Inc., overseeing 600 employees and a $50 million budget.
Acting committee chair Herman F. Hewitt asked Hennings if Diablo Royale Este operates as a restaurant. He said that they did, and he had his executive chef on hand as well. Hennings estimates that he spends 20 hours a week working on new recipes for the restaurant with his chef.
The committee decided to recommend sending a letter to the State Liquor Authority to investigate Diablo Royale's various stipulations and claims. Committee member David McWater asked Hennings if he would voluntarily agree to stop using the backyard. If he did so, then the committee wouldn't send a letter to the SLA.
"I'm happy to be investigated," Hennings said. He wanted the fact that he welcomed the investigation to be noted in the letter. Several times Hennings mentioned that he had surveillance cameras in the backyard, and that the committee could review the video.
Also on the docket: The committee voted down Jevan Damadian's plans to reopen 34 Avenue A, the onetime home of Aces and Eights....ditto for the "restaurant for the senses" planned in the old Superdive space.
Previously on EV Grieve:
Diablo Royale Este opens today: features two bars, one screening room and spit-roast pigs in the backyard