Wednesday, July 14, 2010

[Updated] Proposed Bowery eateries make their pitch to CB2 (retractable patio roof alert!)

Two new Bowery hopefuls went before the CB2/SLA Board last night in the NYU Silver Building on Waverly Place. Final verdicts will be (I think!) released later this week... Here are two proposed restaurants of particular interest:

[Photo via BoweryBoogie]

1) 264 Bowery.

Before sitting empty for a few years, 264 Bowery was home to the Lenny Kravitz-Denzel Washington-backed bold-faced-named club Kos. As New York magazine noted, Kos had a plush room dubbed the "Kitty Box," where the likes of Bruce Willis, P. Diddy and Steven Tyler could hobnob. So it was loud and exclusive.

Anyway! The six principals aiming to open an eatery here are well-aware of the noisy past at this address. Which is why the group said they'd be a "neighborhood-friendly restaurant" and "we want to be open to our neighbors." And no velvet ropes! The concept: "Seasonal tapas." And they'd be open 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Sunday-Thursday; 5 p.m.-3:30 a.m. Friday and Saturday. The place would seat 48, with another 13 at the bar. The group hasn't decided on a name yet. The current working name is Bowery Row.

Three of the principals were on hand for the presentation. They were asked about the hours. They said they wouldn't want to open earlier because there isn't any foot traffic and no one around who'd want to eat. Someone near me suggested the crowds at the New Museum may have another opinion about that. Another person said the people working at the nearby restaurant supply companies may like to have another lunch option. And they'd need to be open late because something about their kind of "seasonal tapas" was the food that groups of four to six would be ordering.

Later, one of the principals mentioned being a destination. But wait, don't you want to be "neighborhood friendly?" He corrected himself, sort of: A neighborhood-friendly destination place.

Several nearby residents spoke out against more noise and bargoers on the Bowery. One resident singled out Keith McNally, saying that he got a free pass from CB2 with Pulino's. McNally promised a neighborhood friendly restaurant. And he put Bar first in the name: Pulino's Bar & Pizzeria.

So, the bottom line (paraphrasing), don't be hoodwinked by slicksters who promise to be neighborhood friendly.

(BoweryBoogie has more on 264 Bowery here.)

2) 348 Bowery

I wrote about this yesterday... I was wrong on a few details, though the proposal is for the first New York branch of Segafredo Zanetti Espresso Café, the Italian-style coffee bar.

I was wrong about the Alexander Duff involved with the proposed cafe. This Alexander Duff, it turns out, was the co-owner of Pacific East in Amagansett and later in Chelsea. (You can read how all that turned out here.) He has partnered with Holly Roberts, who also spoke before CB2. She is involved with High Bar andAspen Social Club, among others.


This is proposed for the current home of Downtown Auto and Tire, which is now on a month-to-month lease.

This would be a Segafredo franchise open starting at 7 a.m., closing at midnight on weekdays; 2 a.m. on weekends. The cafe would hold 74, with another 16 in a patio roughly where the tires are kept now, as it was rather sadly/comically pointed out.

And the best part: The patio will have a retractable roof with soundproofing ... and sound-resistant sliding doors for the later evening hours. Roberts said that have state-of-the-art soundproofing, installed not by the best soundproof engineer in New York City, but in the entire country.

Said Roberts, "We are not a bar. We are not a nightclub. We are a cafe." She also described it as "a walk-up space. We don't anticipate people coming up in cabs." It will be like a cafe that you see in an Italian piazza, she said.

In any event, Roberts said that they were there with open arms, very willing to be flexible in their operating plans. They want to be good neighbors.

There was plenty of opposition. CB2 regular Zella Jones, a Bleecker Street resident who founded the NoHo/Bowery Partnership, presented a petition against the cafe signed by 148 residents representing 88 addresses in the immediate area. Jones noted that there will be 27 full liquor licenses (including four for the Great Jones Hotel) within 500 feet of this space. She also pointed out the six coffee shops in close proximity.

A gifted speaker, Jones talked about the changing composition of the neighborhood, how it has become a "party atmosphere." She made reference to a previous speaker who called the Bowery "a strip." "It's not a strip, it's a neighborhood." And as for the suggestion that the Downtown Auto and Tire Club was "junky" (that comment was made by someone from the New York Nightlife Association), "We like that garage. We use that garage. The garage reminds us of what was." And later, "We are losing our businesses that don't serve alcohol."

Like 264 Bowery, residents can't help but wonder if the proposed cafe will turn out, in the end, to just be another bar.

Wondered Jones: Why would a cafe need a retractable roof and soundproofing?


Grub Street also has coverage of last night's CB2 meeting.

The board rejected plans for both proposed Bowery eateries. Also, as GS notes, the two dudes who spoke last night for 264 Bowery are managers at the MercBar.

This is what happens when you fall asleep in the back of the room.


Anonymous said...

The folks opening these places all say the same thing. And its hokum.

EV Grieve said...


Jeremiah Moss said...

they are all full of it. no peaceful cafe needs a space-age soundproof bubble around it.

also, "Bowery Row" is yet another co-opting of "poor" language by the rich. i guess calling it Skid Row was too much for them. but it's all "Derelicte."

Bowery Boogie said...

agreed, anon 7:08. it's like they're all reading the same playbook. something ain't right.

Anonymous said...

I am way too old for these places, and could care less whether they come or go. But plainly there is quite a bit of double speak on both sides of this equation. Every one of these meetings have residents saying that the LES has "become" noisy, crowded, bars, etc., etc. This is on the Bowery for chrissakes. Get over it.

It is true that 25 years ago there were fewer bars, or at least fewer frat bars. But there also were people just hanging around on street corners, drinking, smoking, blaring boom boxes, setting off car alarms, etc. There usually were as many people outside of CBGBs as there was inside. I was one of them. We made a lot more noise than what emanates out of these bars.

blue glass said...

anonymous might have been very noisy outside CBGB's but not everyone else was. (i was here too). nor was there the general "me me me" attitude now displayed by these folks that think this is the place for the ultimate party.
perhaps one reason past noise was not so awful is that the old-time (mostsly ukrainian) bars served rye bread, mustard and cold cust to their customers, thus coating the somatch a bit. and while many folks hung out they were not noisy drunks showing the world how obnoxious they could be. and they (mosty) had less money and more consideration for others.

Lisa said...

The reason all these liquor license supplicants parrot the same tired line is because there's a small pool of SLA-specializing lawyers (several of whom were actually on the State Liquor Authority in former lives and know the ins and outs of the system perfectly) they choose from to help put their applications together. The lawyers know what the community wants to hear, the community knows what it's hearing is bullshit, and the state SLA just wants the $ from the license in its coffers.

Anonymous said...

blueglass -- we are in heated agreement. Bars were different, less crowded, served a different purpose and clientele, etc. Loud mouth kids did not drink in the neighborhood watering hole but on the street corners, in parks, or (in the unlikely event they could afford it) clubs.

But the neighborhoods were not quieter, and the windows were open 24 hours a day half the year to let all of the street noise in. The same people who claim to be longing for the peace and quiet of yore either weren't here yore or just don't like the current incarnation of noise or the bratty 20 year olds that are making it. So, all I am saying is there is a lack of candor on both sides of this useless community board process.

NYC taxi photo said...

Wow, about ten years ago I had a car, with a bumper that needed to be attached, to replace my existing bumper. now most places would charge 100 bucks or more for anything. turned on by all the foreign old cars, bmws and wv busses and mercedes diesels etc there, I figured this place would do good, a guy came out and within a few hours was able to afix my new bumper to my car for only 40 dollars. i have a fond memory of this place, the only car shop in manhattan that i feel was honest and good.

Anonymous said...

Zella Jones is a very gifted speaker? if you mean stomping, ranting, raving, and spraying venom with every word is gifted speaking, then yes, she is a very gifted speaker.