Rumor: Epstein’s Bar Might Reopen in September, Allegedly with Help from CB3 Chair Nominee

Posted on: June 14th, 2016 at 9:25 am by
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For nine months the northeast corner of Allen and Stanton Streets has been quiet. Devoid of the rowdy crowds the neighborhood had become accustomed to. Relish the relative peace because it could change pretty soon. After all, there is a reason why Epstein’s Bar hasn’t removed any of its furnishings and the like from the premises; we’re now hearing word that rebirth is nigh. And could happen as soon as next September.

Since the closure last fall – when its license was terminated and placed in “safe keeping” – we have been hearing rumors that Epstein’s Bar was fighting to return to 82 Stanton Street. Shooting the moon, if you will. There was some chatter in the immediate aftermath that ownership was hell-bent on sticking it out, trying to remedy the Certificate of Occupancy problem that apparently became its achilles heel. The end game, as it’s been for the last couple years, was to expand operations into the upper two floors. However, the constant thorn in its side is the fact that Epstein’s has been operating for more than a dozen years contrary to its official zoning as use group for “sales of clothing.”

To meet code compliance, the bar would also, among other things, need to settle the 21+ open violations totaling more than $122,000 in penalties.

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So, yeah. On paper, a mountain would need moving to realize a reopening by September. Yet that’s allegedly happening. Over the last several days, we’ve heard from three sources independent of each other that backroom talks are allegedly taking place between Epstein’s owner Eric McManus and Community Board 3 member Enrique Cruz to ensure approval of the two-floor expansion and revival of the bar. Cruz himself, meanwhile, is vying for the CB3 chair position, since term limits have done in Gigi Li. These rumored discussions, if ultimately proven true, show a confidence of winning said seat and the power to make it happen.

However, when reached for comment, Cruz flat-out denied the rumors. “I can confirm that I am not involved in any discussions that have anything to do with Epstein’s Bar,” he told us in an email. “I can also confirm that as of the time of this email, the Community Board Office has not received any application in regards to Epstein’s.”

CB3 District Manager Susan Stetzer, for her part, concurs with the latter statement, telling us she possessed no knowledge of these talks. “The CB office is unaware of any of this information,” she says. “We receive applications by applicants submitting 30-day notice forms as mandated by state law. We put all applications on the next agenda—there is no discretion. We not have a form for this address.”

CB3 is expected to vote for its new board Chair position at the end of the month.

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May 2014, Photo: @123Dortiz

The LES Dwellers block association, meanwhile, which was at the forefront of the Epstein’s battle last year, is equally suspicious of these alleged discussions.

“We understand Epstein’s license was placed in safekeeping allowing them to reopen on the first floor only if and when more than $150k in fines and violations from DOB and NY SLA are satisfied,” LES Dwellers co-founder Diem Boyd noted. “We are hard-pressed to believe the rumors that Epstein’s has been in non-public meetings with members of CB3 regarding plans to reopen and expand. The CB3 SLA committee stood with the residents in denying Epstein’s expansion plans in June 2014 recognizing the issues emanating from the premises and degraded quality of life and public safety resulting from saturation in the area.”

Even the official website remains unplugged. And somewhere out there, Elijah Wood is weeping

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