CB3 Approves David McWater’s Purchase of d.b.a., Denies Sixth Ward Renewal

Posted on: November 18th, 2014 at 5:00 am by
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With such a busy agenda of applicants this month, Community Board 3 split the SLA subcommittee meeting into two parts. Last night was part one of the saga, and presented plenty of drama to report. It was much ado about homecomings and backyards.

The most notable news of the evening was the return of former CB3 member David McWater, who resigned in September 2013 after nearly attacking a member from the LES Dwellers block association. His homecoming bumped the application to first position on the agenda (from #14). This time he was on the receiving end of a tough panel.

d.b.a. – 41 First Avenue

McWater’s acquisition is the beloved d.b.a bar, a First Avenue mainstay since the nineties. His appearance was warranted for approval of this sale of assets. Both of the original partners passed away in the last three years – Ray Deter in 2011 and Dennis Zentek this past March. Apparently the heirs approached McWater, who owns two other bars in the area (Library, Doc Holliday’s), to take over the business.

Nothing about the bar is changing; it’s the same name, same method of operation, and same staff. The one bone of contention, however, was the issue of the rear yard and the partial enclosure. One CB3 member asked of the legality of the structure after allegations surfaced that it might be illegal; it also doesn’t help that the Department of Buildings website seemed unclear on the matter. Backed by District Manager Susan Stetzer, McWater held his ground, and noted that 41 First Avenue is a pre-Certificate of Occupancy building, and that there is a Letter of No Objection on file with the city. Stetzer also mentioned that there are permits for this address to build the enclosure. To help diffuse the apparent impasse, there was agreement on earlier closing times for the outside – 10pm for the unenclosed area and 11pm for the enclosed. “I intend to be diligent about running the business,” McWater stated.

The application was approved.

Sixth Ward, 191 Orchard Street

Problem child Sixth Ward was up for a liquor license renewal. As previously reported, the seven-year-old Hell Square sports bar faces myriad issues with its very presence on the block. Most of the complaints are focused on the backyard and the lack of Certificate of Occupancy. There are four ECB and twelve SLA violations for this bait-and-switch business, which initially billed itself as a vegetarian restaurant. As indication of said infractions, the bar last week removed the glasshouse from the patio altogether. Some of the violations are pretty serious, like allegedly falsifying documents and changing the method of operation to “sports bar” without proper consent.

Moreover, not only is the rear yard illegal without a valid Certificate of Occupancy, but there is no liquor license that currently covers drinking outside. A public assembly permit is still needed, and then an application for license alteration. Ownership was grilled hard and wasn’t too forthcoming with details. Lots of “not sure” and “I guess” responses to questions from the board, especially when asked about the maximum occupancy of the bar and yard.

Neighbors complained of the excessive noise emanating from the premises. But the clincher was a note that Stetzer received from Niki Russ Federman of Russ & Daughters who relayed that the Sixth Ward was the predominant reason for her relocation to Brooklyn five years ago. The quality of life was so compromised by the bar.

The renewal was denied outright, and included a clause about the unlikely approval of any alteration in the future for this establishment. CB3 and the SLA seem united against the Sixth Ward. The LES Dwellers are calling for revocation. This will get interesting…

Other notes:

Taquitoria at 168A Ludlow Street was approved for a beer and wine license. The year-old Mexican joint initially held off applying for booze to garner good faith with the community. They plan to sell three types of drinks, based on consumer demand – Tecate ($5), sangria, and champagne.

Percy’s Tavern at 210 Avenue A was approved for OP renewal. The owner worked with the nearby block associations about noise issues stemming from a lack of closed doors. An agreement was forged to ensure that all openings are shuttered during events held at bars. Ironic, considering the neighbors were the ones who lodged the lion’s share of complaints against the establishment.

Mission Cantina was approved for an upgrade to full liquor.

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