First, a little about the address... which has seemingly been home to a succession of clubs in recent years...
A quick refresher from their Facebook page:
Open Daily 5 pm-4 am
Happy Hour: 5 pm-10 pm
Kitchen: 5 pm-3 am (Daily)
DJ: 6 nights a week
Wednesday: Live Middle Eastern Band
There is no mistake that this venue, designed to take a regular evening and turn it into a spectacular one, is called La Vie. Upon entering, life as you know it stops and your definition of New York nightlife changes, as French-Moroccan cuisine, cocktails, and décor fuse to attract a multitude. Come for happy hour, dance all night long, or come when our doors open and stay until the doors close, La Vie is on every night.
Several First Street residents were in attendance to address the ongoing issues with La Vie (and its predecessors), and the fact that they have been operating as a club under the guise of a restaurant.
According to residents, the dance music emanating from the two-level club is loud and disruptive to their quality of life ... and there's often chaos in the streets as clubgoers come and go, etc. ... Meanwhile, residents say management has been unresponsive to the issues. A manager told a resident that the club couldn't turn down the music, saying "they need to keep a good vibe for dancing."
Another resident stood up and gave one of the most heartfelt and straightforward pleas before the Community Board that I have ever heard. He estimated that he has put hundreds of hours into trying to get La Vie to be a better neighbor, even spending $3,500 on an independent sound study. He talked about the anxiety that he and his girlfriend were experiencing... being perpetually exhausted on just a few hours of sleep most nights... the dread of anticipating the nonstop thump-thump-thump of the music. "We refuse to retreat to another borough or community," he said.
The two owners were on hand... they took over La Vie this past fall... the two seemed sympathetic to the situation. One owner says they have spent $100,000 the last 45 days installing sound-proofing and getting sound testing done. The owners even offered to soundproof the apartments of any residents experiencing noise problems. "We understand there is more work to do," one owner said.
Later it came out that the previous club here also soundproofed the space, prompting people to wonder how much soundproofing was needed for one place ... Committee member Ariel Palitz, who owns Sutra around the bend on First Avenue, lectured the owners — and offered an inexpensive solution. Why not just turn down the music?
During the discussion, one of the owners said that his partner with him — Mohamed Elsayed — was the proprietor of Horus Cafe on Avenue B and Sixth Street and the Horus Cafe on Avenue A and 10th Street.
CB3 District Manager Susan Stetzer mentioned that Horus on B had run afoul of the State Liquor Authority (SLA) for an illegal sidewalk cafe. There was more discussion, and the committee voted against renewing La Vie's license... sending the matter on to the SLA, where the owners already have a hearing scheduled on Feb. 2 related to several prior violations, including an illegal trade name and unauthorized alterations (La Vie put in a retractable roof).
After the dismissal, a glowering Elsayed approached the committee table and made several angry comments. Turning to walk away, he inexplicably called Stetzer a racist. This prompted an exchange.
"Your mind was made up before we got here," Elsayed semi-shouted while leaving the room.
A little later, one committee member said in jest in front of the room, "If douchebags are a race, then I'm a racist."
Previous posts on last night's meeting:
LES nightlife game-changer: Team behind 13th Step, Down the Hatch OK'd to take over Café Charbon space
[Updated] Superdive a CB3/SLA no-show tonight