CB3 Committee Approves Mars Bar, Denies EMM Group and The Derby

Posted on: May 13th, 2014 at 5:29 am by

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The Derby replaces Tiny Fork on Orchard St.

The monthly SLA subcommittee meeting for Community Board 3 transpired last night. As is the case every month, the evening went on forever. Eight agenda items were ogled over for five hours, and then we left. That could be a record, but we’re too tired to actually verify. Meanwhile, here are some notes about the “bigger ticket” items addressed.

Mars Bar 2.0, 21 East First Street

This was the applicant that many in the press were there to witness. But it took some three hours of patience and cabin fever. Forget what you remember about Mars Bar because the reboot won’t show any fuckin’ resemblance. Elderly owner Hank Penza attended with his three new partners – Alain Palinsky (Juice Press), Chris Reda (The Griffin), and Robert Montwaid (Pink Elephant) – and discussed plans for the space to be located at 21 East First Street. We learned that the liquor license had been kept by the SLA for “safe keeping” while the new Jupiter 21 building went up. Plans for Mars Bar 2.0 (which will allegedly keep its iconic name) call for a Juice Press-type operation on the ground level for dayside clientele and the basement for the rowdiness. Though there would be drinking upstairs during the night.

The application for full liquor pretty much sailed through without incident. From our perspective, though, this concept seems too convoluted to properly succeed; something about there being too many cooks in the proverbial kitchen.

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Mark Birnbaum and Eugene Remm of EMM Group

Finale (Bakers Dozen LLC), 199 Bowery

The arrogant jokers at EMM Group returned to the committee to try and legitimize (yet again) the illegal operations at their crown jewel nightclub, Finale at 199 Bowery. Even after settling with the SLA over a host of violations to the tune of $25,000. The alteration request was twofold – (1) to move the originally-agreed-upon dancing component of their agreement from the basement to Finale (where they’ve already been operating as such) and (2) to change the so-called “bakery” to some bogus sushi stand.

There were a few speakers who supported the EMM endeavor and who reside at 199 Bowery, but overall the mood swayed negative. Plenty of opposition. The most passionate speech was by a condo owner who recently learned through the litany of SLA proceedings that the club complex had been using liquid nitrogen on premises that posed imminent danger, and that illegal tampering with fire safety equipment was afoot.

We’ve been through this before. Much of the same old complaints were lodged, and the panel fell in line. EMM Group was denied an OP alteration for Finale.

The Derby, 167 Orchard Street

Controversial bar owner Rob Shamlian came prepared. Last month, his idea of explaining the intention behind the basement alteration was attacking Bowery Boogie. This time around, he brought a posse of supporters who spoke of how great his establishments are and the alleged commitment to the community. The ultimate goal, as before, is to alter the service bar in the basement to a stand-up bar. Swayed by the opposition and the convoluted nature of the application, the panel ultimately rendered a denial. Again.

Also, Shamlian apparently finds out about his own establishment by reading Bowery Boogie (thanks, brah). At least that was his answer when approached about the latest SLA action to altogether revoke the liquor license at this address.

151 Avenue A

The address in question is the long-running San Loco eatery, which did indeed carry a full OP. New applicants Ken Friedman and April Bloomfield hope to establish a cafe in the 450 square-foot space. Neither attended the meeting, but instead sent their GM and counsel. There was staunch opposition to this application for fear of a bait-and-switch. There’s no kitchen and the food offered is a “light menu.” San Loco, in contrast, never “celebrated” its drink offerings. Opponents led by the North Avenue A Block Association cited the need for more retail balance on an over-saturated stretch of real estate, and how this application didn’t satisfy public benefit to the community.

With their collective pedigree and resume, you better believe they’ll hit up the SLA directly now.

Mission Cantina, 172 Orchard Street

Danny Bowien obtained a green light for a sidewalk cafe along the Stanton Street frontage. The setup includes four tables and eight seats. The Department of Consumer Affairs issues the license.

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