Foundation Nightclub Owners to Open ‘Mazaar Lounge’ on Essex Street, Neighbors Fear Bait-and-Switch

Posted on: March 11th, 2015 at 5:13 am by
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One former problem child is set to return under new banner…

Foundation nightclub spent more than four controversial years operating at 137 Essex Street, eliciting numerous run-ins with both neighbors and the Department of Health. The establishment closed late last year, and went under the knife back in December with the requisite construction shed. Gut rehab followed, and a quick job it was.

The plywood was dismantled earlier this week to reveal an equally clubbish exterior (including a sign pointing to the entrance). Mazaar Bar & Lounge is almost ready to go, even though its liquor licenses are still pending with the State Liquor Authority.

Mazaar is helmed by controversial Foundation co-owner Joseph Torres and Cozy Cafe principals Khaled Boghdedy and Sherif Beshir. Though described as a “lounge serving amazing Middle Eastern food,” there are rumors circulating that it’ll likely just descend into another hookah lounge.

Meanwhile, the checkered history of 137 Essex is still fresh in the minds of many. Not only because Foundation adversely affected quality of life and reportedly broke the law (e.g. allegedly operated despite DOH closure in 2013), but due to the issue of a new liquor license for Mazaar. It’s a flashpoint that epitomizes the chronic controversy plaguing Community Board 3 under the tutelage of Susan Stetzer and Gigi Li.

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You see, CB3 decided in September to forego any public forum for the new liquor license application, and to approve the OP without incident. Sound familiar? Reason given at the time was that corporate changes are not usually heard at committee when there are no official complaints on file. However, the application submitted for 137 Essex actually shows that Mazaar is a new license and not a corporate restructuring. Plus, there is also a change in method of operation from tavern to restaurant. Therefore, CB3 should have treated it as such and calendared the item for community consumption. Especially given its location in a saturated area, where “public interest” must be ascertained.

Of course, that would be the proper thing to do.

Judging by the state of the interior, expect the opening in the coming weeks. Bait-and-switch, people – you read it here first. Just give it six to nine months…

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