Notes from CB3: Karaoke Boho and Norman’s Cay Win, Mission Chinese Replacement Loses

Posted on: February 10th, 2015 at 5:00 am by
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These days, Orchard Street – once a major player in the “bargain district” of yore – is simply just another drunken destination on the Lower East Side. Its character and charm is being soiled by saturation (and overdevelopment), at least north of Delancey.

And last night, three applicants pitched concepts before the SLA subcommittee of Community Board 3.

Shalom Tov Tapas Bar, 154 Orchard Street

As previously reported, Tal Lavi of Third Avenue Ale House would like to open a tapas style bar with a “Mediterranean healthy orientation.” It’d be a lax “neighborhood spot” and lean heavily on Israeli/North African fare.

But not if CB3 has anything to say about it … and they did.

The panel pretty much stonewalled this application for a full liquor license from the get-go. Much of the opposition was with regard to the space itself, which is a nightmare fraught with legal issues and problems with building code. Just ask Danny Bowien of Mission Chinese Food who’s still in a legal tussle with the building owner. The space itself isn’t even zoned commercial, there is no Certificate of Occupancy for the back patio, and the structure above said rear yard is illegal.

Lavi was forced into withdrawing the application to consult an architect about the legality of the exterior structure, and what’s needed to remedy. That said, the subcommittee intimated that they’re fully against a full OP in this spot. Wine and beer privileges without backyard use is what CB3 wants, and even the LES Dwellers were okay with that arrangement.

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Karaoke Boho, 152 Orchard Street

Their counsel made a point about how Karaoke Boho was seemingly in the “habit of taking over problem places and correcting.” That’s arguable, but the operation did replace the terrible Tuts, and now, Tammany Hall at 152 Orchard. The move is, as previously noted, precipitated by Ben Shaoul’s purchase of the entire corner of Orchard and East Houston.

This larger iteration of Karaoke Boho (300 patrons) will apparently be more “food focused” with service of Mexican-American food to the slew of private rooms. There are a total of 21 karaoke stalls split between the basement, ground, and mezzanine levels. Concerned that increased menu options would be the proverbial Trojan Horse for another full-on club, CB3 held firm, and seemed hesitant to approve another OP here.

Once ownership agreed to downgrade to wine-beer, however, the application sailed right through. As before, the LES Dwellers could only get behind this measure, without full liquor.

Norman’s Cay, 74 Orchard Street

Shervin Nassi – proprietor of two-year-old Shervin’s World Cafe in Alphabet City – sought approval of this sale of assets. He’s essentially taking over the current establishment and pretty much keeping everything, including the name, identical for the time being. He’ll introduce some new menu items, too.

Nassi worked with the block association to claw back closing time to 3am during weeknights (4am on weekends), which is barely a compromise. This community outreach and the slew of signatures from the immediate surroundings helped net approval for the transfer.

One neighbor spoke in opposition to what she feared as another eatery masquerading as a club. Most of the other speakers were in support, hailing Nassi’s character and ownership style at Shervin’s.

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