Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Westville East still looking to add a sidewalk care; calls out "mean-spirited neighbors"

Last week, the CB3/SLA committee denied Westville East's request to add a sidewalk cafe... As The Lo-Down reported, the sidewalk cafe license was rejected "on the grounds that Avenue A is already overburdened with bars and late night crowds."

Tonight, the full CB3 will apparently hear their case...signs up in the window at Westville on Avenue A and 11th Street explain what's what... they also call out some "mean-spirited neighbors..."


RyanAvenueA said...

I guess if you're going to offend you're "mean-spirited" neighbors, hide it in the longest run-on sentence you can. Especially love that nice piece about profiting off the sidewalk. Isn't that the point of a sidewalk cafe?

From the SLA meeting it seemed like the two issues were noise, and that would-be patrons of Westville block the entrance/exit to the apartments above.

I'm almost thinking a sidewalk cafe would help them out by turning tables quicker. They could also cordon off the area where waiting parties block the upstairs neighbors' egress.

This wouldn't be an issue if their vegetables weren't soooooo good.

Anonymous said...

I live near Westville and don't have an issue with them having a sidewalk cafe. I'd rather restaurants with sidewalk cafes than more bars period.

The only issue could be with space: Patrons line up outside the place now, and are all over the sidewalk. It's a pain to get by them, especially if you have a stroller.

So if there are tables out there, the people waiting will have less room to wait, and it'll be even more of an obstacle course. Then again, as the previous poster pointed out, maybe having a sidewalk cafe would allow more diners to sit right away and alleviate that problem.

I'd eat at Westville a lot more if the prices were a bit lower, but I guess they have to keep them up in this economy.

RyanAvenueA said...

Yikes. That second "you're" was supposed to be a "your." Nothing like bad grammar to take away your credibility in the neighborhood blogs.

Shawn said...

I live above Westville and will be attending CB3 tonight.

As I have a great relationship with the owners and eat at Westville quite often. I've let them know a few times now that patrons standing/sitting in front of my door is getting to be more and more of a problem.

Westville can't fully control rude people who think their waiting for brunch outweighs my right to come and go from my own apartment. However, something must be done.

The owners have taken my input under advisement and told me that the sidewalk cafe will reduce the amount of people waiting, and those that are waiting will be shuffled over to 11th Street, where there is are no residential buildings for a good 100 feet.

If that's the case, that will clear up the front of my building and I'd be happy.

glamma said...

a sidewalk cafe will only add to their "appeal" and increase the size of their crowd. it will make the problem worse, not better. if they cared so much about their nieghbors and their neighborhood, they would have put large signs everywhere instructing the waiting crowd on how to behave, and have the hostess actually enforce it, before it became an issue of scrutiny at the CB3 meeting.

I also want to add that to some extent, businesses ARE responsible for the kind of crowd they attract - in this case, rude, self-absorbed, entitled and affluent = NOT GOOD for the east village, whose history is rich in being 1) a place of diversity, 2) refuge for the common man, 3)accepting of those on the margins/fringes/outskirts of "society." i live right by nublu, and I never, EVER have problems with THEIR crowd....

Anonymous said...

"some mean-spirited neighbors said Westville 'will profit off their sidewalk'".

I don't oppose this sidewalk cafe permit specifically, but I do have an issue with how easy it's been to get one in the past. Sidewalks are public spaces, owned by the public. Sidewalk cafe permits convert that public space to private use. To me, it's no different than if the city allowed a restaurant to set up shop on any parcel of land: they should have to pay a monthly lease instead of a nominal permit fee.

Given that restaurants don't have to pay for such a lease, it's simply a collision between the self-interest of people who live nearby and the restaurant owners. It's not "mean-spirited" to say that a government agency should do what's in my interest rather than yours. At the point where westville (which I frequent on occasion) doesn't have to lease the space, I see no reason why the profits of the owners should be prioritized above the convenience of neighborhood residents.

Anonymous said...

"I also want to add that to some extent, businesses ARE responsible for the kind of crowd they attract - in this case, rude, self-absorbed, entitled and affluent = NOT GOOD for the east village"

Again, I learn so much about who I am because I love their burgers and vegetables. Thanks, Glam. Now if only I got paychecks like the affluent, I'd be much happier about this.

RyanAvenueA said...

I'm most inclined to support Shawn's efforts to coexist with Westville since he lives above it. And I think Anon@2:12 had a great point about prioritizing convenience over profit--especially after seeing how many restaurants are cash only these days. I'm willing to give up part of my sidewalk if I think the increased tax revenue will return to the neighborhood. (Do I suspect cash-only restaurants have creative balance sheets? Sure do!)

@Glamma: I'd love to think that putting up signs would curb obnoxious behavior, but I think they'd be as respected as the $350 honking penalty signs are at 4am outside my window. I'm torn about businesses being responsible for the kind of crowd they attract. If you purposefully build an asshole magnet a la Superdive, then definitely--that's what you'll get. But I don't think Westville really goes out of it's way to attract that crowd.

Several owners of less hip places I've spoken with say this is the worst economy they've seen in years. I've been in a number of empty bars lately and I don't understand it.

I don't want 23 year olds acting like jagoffs in my neighborhood, but I also can't stand to see any more empty storefronts. I think in a post about Graceland closing you said that the quaintness of the neighborhood is what makes it attractive. I think Westville is a nice example of being quaint(ish) and successful.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand why more of these places -- if they sincerely care about residents, sidewalk noise, and crowd control -- don't simply hire doorpeople or sidewalk wranglers. A hostess has other things to do, but someone dedicated to managing the crowds could be a huge help.

I worked the door for years at a nightclub. It's not easy to manage large groups, especially if people are drunk, but it is criminally simple. You just have to constantly, politely, rationally keep asking people over and over to please stay within the confines of the space, please don't clog the sidewalk, please don't block the door of the apartment building next door, please keep your voices down, please this and that. Again and again and again until 4 am when you bid them a safe trip home.

It's what bugs me so much about a certain upper Avenue A bar that used to be a laundromat; the doorman, when there is one, basically does nothing but check IDs and chat with patrons, when said patrons aren't yelling or inexplicably smoking and yelling into cell phones directly in front of my building's door (why THERE? but I digress).

If Westville (or whomever, I have no dog in the Westville fight) really cares about dealing with a noisy sidewalk, then get proactive about it and stop whining about "mean-spirited" people who are usually just residents trying to live their lives in peace.

Anonymous said...

I also think part of the problem with Westville is that it is do darn tiny. They really need to move to a bigger space. I enjoy their food, but I don't go there much anymore because I have to be in the mood to be crammed in.

Jill said...

According to David McWater at tonight's CB3 meeting, they will get their sidewalk cafe license regardless of what the community board recommends.