SLA Changes Its Mind, Awards Liquor License to Peter Poulakakos at 146 Bowery

Posted on: March 7th, 2014 at 5:11 am by
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Ever since last October, when the State Liquor Authority denied Peter Poulakakos (Dead Rabbit Tavern) a full liquor license to operate at 146 Bowery, the corner store has been stagnating behind rotten, tattered plywood. But the fight never actually ended. Behind the scenes, wheels were in motion to ensure that their 150-seat restaurant vision would materialize here in the old home of Lite Elite. That’s precisely what happened, and now the block-long Sohotel building sports four licenses to its name.

Here’s the skinny.

It took fewer than 90 days for the SLA to acquiesce to a “reconsideration” of the original application. The board revisited the matter during an hour-long sesh in mid-January, where Poulakakos and his crew escaped victorious. They made some changes to the method of operation in the interim, including a reduction of capacity on both levels and curtailing hours.

Through a collection of endorsements from artists and local charity organizations, the applicant demonstrated the so-called public benefit of adding another OP license in this saturated area. For example, the ACE homeless employment program wheeled out their support, saying that Poulakakos has already hired staff from their ranks. Neighborhood artist Marguerite Van Cook also showed her support, as she was told that the restaurant would offer a haven to local artists to showcase their work. Apparently there’s some sort of partnership in the works with the Howl! Arts Festival, the organization for which she is managing director.

The applicants also invited the principal from the Sam Schwartz Engineering firm to discuss traffic vis-a-vis the new establishment. His conclusion was that there wouldn’t be an adverse effect on traffic as it stands. And that volume actually decreases in the evenings (12 vehicles/hour on weekdays; 10 vehicles/hour on weekends). But what about the cumulative factor of vehicle trips to all the bars within 500 feet?

The opposition – anchored by testimonies from the Bowery Alliance of Neighbors and CB2 SLA co-chair Carter Booth – towed the party line of enough is enough over here. They called attention to the fact that the traffic study was likely bogus since it was based upon a data set used for Osteria Morini, and failed to take into account matters like double-parking and an overwhelming number of taxis. There was also an inference made that this firm is for sale among operators for its favorable reports.

For a minute, it seemed like the SLA wouldn’t give in. But they did. Their main sticking point was with regard to the basement. Poulakakos dubbed it a lounge, and scaled back its capacity to 50 patrons, and no standing at the bar. The intention of the basement is apparently for overflow. Chairman Rosen was initially skeptical about a possible bait-and-switch, yet let it ride anyway.

The liquor license approval was contingent on including the following stipulations on the paper itself – curtailing hours for both levels to 2am all nights, with the caveat that the basement is only open to restaurant patrons after 1am on weekends.

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