Webster Hall-Backed ‘Mul-Bay Cocktail Lounge’ Gives up Bid for Chinatown

Posted on: October 6th, 2015 at 5:00 am by
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​Mul-bay went Mul-bust. That’s the word on the street, anyway. Just check out the new for rent signs that returned to the shuttered grates on 69 Mulberry Street.

The Webster Hall-backed cocktail lounge met with entrenched community opposition almost from the get go. And it seemed that, at every turn, principals Lon Ballinger and Kenny Schachter managed to piss off the locals. First, naming the establishment Kimlau Gardens after the distinguished Chinese American bomber pilot. There was apparently little outreach, too, conducted without any notices translated to Chinese. Then later came the proclamations that the “food forward” Mul-Bay (10 items on the menu) would “liven up” and “bring young Chinese” back to Chinatown. Truth is, many felt offended by the strong-arm approach, and that this place was most likely another bait-and-switch club masquerading as a restaurant.

No one bought it; not even Community Board 3, which slapped down its bid for full liquor in an showing of theatrics. When pushed by the SLA subcommittee in August about how Mul-Bay Cocktail Lounge would offer public benefit, the crew noted that it’s a “unique establishment” that would bring a “new dynamic to the area.” Only problem is, locals already imparted that this isn’t for them. “We don’t eat dim sum at midnight,” one speaker noted at the time. Ballinger expounded by saying the goal was to generate buzz, to have a place that’s “written about by Eater and the New York Times.”

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If failure proves positive, the exit would be a win for Chinese neighbors who are contending with a torrent of outside nightlife invading the area (i.e. Mr. Fong’s, Chinese Tuxedo).

So now the building owner – whose father started the former Han May Meats in the 1960s – is again on the lookout.

…And neighbors remain vigilant.

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