Toby’s Public House Draws Resistance from Community

Posted on: April 26th, 2011 at 6:39 am by

Toby’s Public House was denied a full liquor license for 86 Kenmare Street at last month’s Community Board 2 SLA meeting.  Locals weren’t happy about another invasive restaurant following in the footsteps of Village Tart, and board members were reportedly annoyed by the lack of community outreach.  Well, last night was the big push by ownership to meet the neighbors face-to-face.  It wasn’t pretty, and tempers nearly flared.

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Signs on nearby light poles and the newish sidewalk shed advertised the get-together.  It was basically an attempt to wine-and-dine the community, so to speak.  Turnout was surprisingly high – approximately twenty, including residents of 86 Kenmare and of other buildings in the immediate vicinity.  Owner Christine Iu detailed her intentions for the Manhattan branch of Toby’s Public House, and served plenty of pizza to the concerned crowd.

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Much like the zillion other nightlife newcomers looking to land on the Lower East Side, Toby’s wants to be a “casual neighborhoody place.”  Zero intention of becoming a rowdy nightspot.  The response is an oft-empty promise that has become a textbook play for restaurateurs. Meanwhile, diagrams pasted to an unfinished wall detailed an interior which seats roughly fifty-five patrons, boasts two kitchens, and displays hopes of a sidewalk cafe on the Kenmare front.  And while their Brooklyn location is a sports bar, there is currently no plan for that concept to cross the river.  Indeed, there will only be two televisions.

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But the neighbors in attendance weren’t having it.  Led by the spirited charge of CB2 board member Robin Goldberg, the community leveled an assault on Iu’s entire operation.  Concerned residents resisted the idea of yet another establishment on Kenmare, which has already become the latest nightlife hotspot.  Most of the usual suspects were touched upon – noise, liquor license, hours of operation, open windows, etc.  Based solely on the reception to Toby’s last night, there might need to be some regrouping before submitting another application to CB2.

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