Notes from CB3: Little Canal Championed, Barcade and Winnie’s Replacement Panned

Posted on: January 12th, 2016 at 5:00 am by

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26 Canal, future home of Little Canal cafe

An abbreviated agenda does not a short night make. After all, this is Community Board 3, where the monthly SLA subcommittee meetings routinely run six hours at a clip.  Last night, of course, was no exception. What appeared to be an easy night was quite the opposite.

The most controversial applicants seeking license approval were front-loaded into the agenda. Barcade was the biggest loser, but the Winnie’s replacement, Little Canal, and Monroe all came out ahead. The deep dive, herewith…


Little Canal, 26 Canal Street

As previously reported, local photographer Jereme Barnas acquired the corner store at 26 Canal Street for a new seven-table American-style cafe. Demolition began three days ago to combine the two stores.

This applicant sustained little in the way of opposition. There was even excitement from neighbors about another establishment catering to daytime dining.

Most of the support came in the form of character witnesses who swore that he is of, for, and by the neighborhood. Former Seward Park Co-op board member Wei-Li Tjong even rang an endorsement. That coupled with the memorandum of understanding with the SPaCE Block Association helped push this one through. Regarding the latter, the sticking point was closing time, which was agreed at 12am weekdays and 1am weekends.

Winnie’s, 104 Bayard Street

Elements of Dudley’s and El Rey converge on Chinatown to take the torch from Winnie’s. It was presented as a Latin-Asian fusion restaurant that would help capture and carry on the Karaoke spirit of its predecessor. Paying tribute to the fallen. However, the Chinese neighbors didn’t see it that way. Rather another affront in their stomping grounds.

Opposition was to “another hipster bar” a-la Mr. Fong’s that’s “culturally different in every way” than the intersection of Baxter and Bayard. In addition, there were more than 100 petition signatures of opposition with a half-dozen more who showed up to voice the same. Much of those against the Winnie’s replacement also focused on the notion that Winnie herself was was not contacted regarding usage of her name and signage for the new place.

The panel was hesitant to approve a 4am full liquor license for an unlicensed establishment. (The previous license expired, so it’s treated as new.) Hours proposed were clawed back to 1am closing during the week and 2am on weekends. Moreover, the applicants buckled under this public pressure and admitted no attachment to the name Winnie’s or the concept of Karaoke at dinner. There will be a name-change.

This updated arrangement ultimately netted the applicants approval. However, the opposition appeared slighted by the decision.

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49 Monroe Street, March 2010

Monroe, 49 Monroe Street

This is the former Kaplan Glass Works garage, chosen by the team behind Forgtmenot and Kiki’s as their next venture. The proposed restaurant focuses on Southern European fare; this was an application for full liquor.

When the previous issue over zoning re-surfaced, it came out that the Department of Buildings already approved the change to commercial Use Group 6. There was some argument and confusion over whether the occupancy of 63 listed on the schedule A remained binding here, but Susan Stetzer confirmed not the case.

The largest block of support came from the SPaCE Block Association which backed the owners’ solid operations on Division Street.

Opposition to this applicant, however, was fairly unique. Spun with a positive angle, in fact. Many mentioned how principal Paul Sierros was a well-respected business owner in the neighborhood (some patronize their places), but objected to the location and hours of Monroe itself. The Orchard Street Block Association noted that they’re challenging the aforementioned DOB zoning determination, but pushed for stricter stipulations if the agency upheld the decision (i.e. 12am closing all days).

There were also some concerned residents of the Knickerbocker Village nearby who were wary about a liquor license across from a public park, while having the quiet block disrupted.

Sierros, for his part, brought up the fact that the elevated train crossing the Manhattan Bridge is the real noise maker on the block. And that his soundproofing of 49 Monroe is meant to keep that clamor out of his establishment.

In the end, there were concessions made by the team to help facilitate approval, including reducing hours to 12am during the week, and 1am on the weekends, and removal of recreational activities like bocce and shuffleboard from the method of operation.

Barcade, 6 St. Mark’s Place

Barcade appeared last night to fight for an upgrade to full liquor. The appearance proved futile.

The consensus from the community and the board itself is that St. Mark’s Place between 2nd and 3rd Avenues is completely over-saturated. And that there is little public benefit to upgrading any current licenses on the block to full OP.

While the opposition did single out the operators as upstanding business owners who ran a tight ship, no one wanted to see the upgrade happen. There are already too many bars here. One of the owners then made an off-color remark about how getting this upgraded license would help put those bad actors out of business.

The comment wasn’t received too well, and the motion was unanimously denied.

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