Thursday, April 29, 2010

How Lit Lounge is trying to be a better neighbor

During the CB3/SLA meeting on March 15, the owners of Lit Lounge -- the two-floor bar/music venue/art gallery at 93 Second Ave. -- were requesting a license transfer to launch a new venture in the space.

As Eater reported that night: "The pitchforks and community outcries came out ... several community members brought signs and spoke out against the owners of Lit, complaining about crowds on the sidewalk forcing pedestrians to walk in the street and music that plays past 4 a.m. on weekends."

There was more: "You run an unbelievably irresponsible business," said one young man who moved above the bar six months earlier. (He's not renewing his lease.) Nearly every speaker invoked the same phrase: 'Lit is not a good neighbor.'"

As The Lo-Down reported: "One resident called the owners 'a lawless group,' who don't bother cleaning up broken glass on the sidewalk, refuse to control their customers and are unresponsive to complaints."

The owners withdrew their transfer request until they can demonstrate that they are willing to make changes.

I recently contacted David Schwartz, one of Lit's co-owners, and asked him what Lit has — and will — be doing in the coming weeks to be a better neighbor.

Via e-mail, he sent me a lengthy list of the steps they are taking. Among them:

Hired an extra person outdoors for crowd control from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m., and to tell patrons to watch belongings inside. Also, we're now asking people to kindly move on after smoking outside or go back inside. We also have brand-new red ropes for two separate corrals for smokers outside.

Noise control
Limiters for sound system
Turn amps down to take control away from DJs.
Informed all staff to tell appropriate parties to lower music if too loud.
Informing people who are controlling the levels how to adjust the system to keep levels fair and balanced.
Lowering bass.
Hiring sound engineer to do meter readings next door.
Soundproofed whole side of bar.
Music off at 4 a.m. mandatory

All signs have been replaced or made noticeably bigger.

Band loading
Making sure someone is at Lit while load in takes place and load out happens safely and earlier than later.

Gave out a memorandum that stated that the some neighbors and community board were not happy with Lit. Listed different topics for them so they could give me some more creative, serious ideas to help us be better neighbors.

The Lit owners have also places fliers on adjacent apartment buildings...

Last Thursday, Schwartz met with members of the East 5th Street Block Association, several of whom spoke out at the March 15 CB3/SLA meeting. The Block Association will be approving and signing a list of the stipulations... I hope to have those soon...along with some more local reaction.

Schwartz said that Lit will likely wait several months before returning to the CB3 to make sure that they're doing things right...


Anonymous said...

Ohhhh. New velvet ropes. Nothing says East Village like velvet ropes. That should sway the board. McWaters don't need no stinkin' ropes

Anonymous said...

Velvet ropes aside, at least they are attempting to take action. Still, if I lived above/next door, I would feel uncomfortable allowing them into my apartment.

glamma said...

Lit has a huge committment to keeping rock and roll alive and well in NYC night life. I have been a fan for years. Anyone who goes there knows there is no attitude or pretension, just good times. I know Dave and he is a really good guy. These efforts they are making show an extraordinary committment to staying in business and being a better neighbor as well. Good luck Dave. Long live Lit!

Richard D James said...

1. Lit is a great bar, an East Village staple - certainly one of my favorites and still has the spirit of the old New York.

2. Excellent that the owners seem interested in doing things right and already have created a plan to make the changes - this is very rare.