Monday, May 20, 2019

No Dollface for the former Bar Virage space on 2nd Avenue

Dollface, Ravi DeRossi's vegan-diner concept, will have to find a home elsewhere.

A for-rent sign now hangs at the former Bar Virage on Second Avenue at Seventh Street.

Back in February, DeRossi appeared before Community Board 3 for a full liquor license for the space. However, CB3 issued a denial, citing among other reasons, its proximity to Middle Collegiate Church on Second Avenue between Sixth Street and Seventh Street.

But didn't Bar Virage have a full liquor license? Yes. Per the CB3 minutes from February:

Community Board 3 does not know whether a determination was made by the SLA about this house of worship when the previous applicant was considered for a full on-premises liquor license but believes that a full on-premises liquor should not now be approved within the proximity of this location to a longstanding house of worship in this community...

The minutes note, too, that "this applicant has also failed to submit any indication of its outreach to the community or support by the community for this application through petition signatures or other means."

In an email on Saturday, DeRossi confirmed that he will be looking for another spot for Dollface in the East Village.

Bar Virage closed in late December after 20-plus years in business. No reason was cited for the closure.

Previously on EV Grieve:
Ravi DeRossi plans vegan diner in former Bar Virage space


sophocles said...

For those interested in liquor license esoterica, in 1999 the State Liquor Authority determined that Middle Collegiate Church was NOT used exclusively as a church, so they permitted a full liquor liquor license at Virage.

I don't know why CB3 cares about petitions. It's not hard to find scores of patrons to sign a petition in support of a full liquor license, out of the thousands of neighbors within a two-block radius. Hell, MaLa Project even offered a free appetizer to patrons who signed their petition. (MaLa Project has excellent dry pots and is always busy. If they can't thrive without a full liquor license, who can?)

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear that the SLA is watching out for's a first I think.
Now if they would just ban all full liquor licenses for any new establishment on Second Avenue within the East Village Historical District.

Anonymous said...

Thanks sophocles, that is interesting. I don’t disagree about petitions being pretty easy to put together, but I don’t understand why restaurateurs wouldn’t want to make more of an effort to engage the community in some other way if they wanted to make a good impression on the Community Board.

“The minutes note, too, that ‘this applicant has also failed to submit any indication of its outreach to the community or support by the community for this application through petition signatures or other means.’”

If I was approaching the Board and trying to get them to act in my favor, I’d want to show them something more substantial than a list of signatures. In context it seems cocky not to. It’s not easy to write something resembling a business plan focusing on benefits to the community, but it is pretty easy to find a good writer / consultant to put it together for a fee. If people in the business don’t have good contacts with people who know how to articulate that sort of thing, they ought to consider making some.

sophocles said...

@3:31 In theory, applicants within 500 feet of three or more on-premises (hard) liquor licenses must show that a new license is in the "public interest." In practice, it's easy as pie. The State Liquor Authority, with Chairman Vincent Bradley, rarely finds that a license in Community Board 3 (East Village, Lower East Side, and Chinatown) will NOT be in the public interest.

CB3 can only make recommendations to the Board. In my experience (though I have not been paying close attention in 2019) they usually recommend a public interest exception, with stipulations that the applicant agrees to, regarding closing times, pub crawls, bottomless brunches, etc.