200 Foot Drama: ‘Gracias Mama’ Revises its Concept for 162 East Broadway

Posted on: June 2nd, 2016 at 5:00 am by
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Gracias Mama, the Mexican establishment gunning for the corner of Rutgers and East Broadway, is facing more of an uphill battle than principals Koorosh Bakhtiar and Nima Garos (Gelso & Grand) probably anticipated. Even though Community Board 3 approved a full liquor license for this previously unlicensed location (controversial in its own right), the recommendation hinges on the state’s review of the proximity to the Church of St. Teresa.

In other words, the application is subject to the “200-foot Rule.” That would explain the re-appearance of Gracias Mama on this month’s SLA subcommittee agenda. Ownership is now applying to relocate the entrance and remove bar stools from the floor. The former change being the most telling, however.

Moving the front door closer to the subway entrance – the old Chinese newsstand – is basically an admission that the establishment sits within 200 feet of the church. It’s a sly maneuver to escape the additional scrutiny, but one that will create more discussion about the dangers of crowding in this spot. Their action could also explain why the team reportedly has not yet submitted the application to the State Liquor Authority for 162 East Broadway.

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(It’s unclear whether a takeout window is still part of the plan now.)

Adding fuel to the controversy is the general displacement of a longtime Chinese bakery serving locals so that a trendy place can cater to the well-to-do. As previously reported, Gracias Mama wasn’t just a replacement venture taking over a vacated space. One of the backers in sister restaurant Gelso & Grand – Hassan Gholizadeh – purchased the building last December for $6.6 million, according to city records. That explains the sudden exodus of the commercial occupants last year.

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