MTA Brushes off Vehement Local Opposition to ‘Gracias Mama’ Entrance on Rutgers Street

Posted on: August 26th, 2016 at 5:00 am by
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The MTA sees nothing wrong with having a restaurant entrance mere feet from a bustling subway station. Specifically that of Gracias Mama, whose principals (Koorosh Bakhtiar and Nima Garos) are trying to alter their method of operation, which could become a harbinger of overcrowding in a small area.

The bold choice to move the front door of Gracias Mama closer to the F line subway entrance – the old Chinese newsstand – was basically an admission that the establishment sits within 200 feet of St. Teresa’s church at 16-18 Rutgers. It’s a sly maneuver to escape the additional scrutiny, but one that will likely contribute to crowding in this spot.

This is the main concern of a grassroots community coalition – LES Dwellers, the Orchard Street Block Association, the Knickerbocker Tenants Association, and Residents of Two Bridges. The new entrance sits directly above the heavily trafficked stairwell of the East Broadway station, and it shares the sidewalk with a bus stop for the southbound M9. Furthermore, there are a total of nine known intercity bus depots operating – both legally and illegally – within two blocks, unloading thousands of customers who rely on both of these public transportation access points. There is a constant flow of humanity at any given time with luggage, strollers, wheelchairs, goods deliveries, etc.

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The MTA doesn’t have a problem with the proposal, though. “This is not a situation unique to this business or street or subway entrance,” the agency told The Villager in a statement. “We have subway entrances throughout the city, and we have businesses whose entrances are close to those subway entrances, and both have co-existed peacefully. We have visited this particular location and found nothing that raised concerns.”

Regardless, Koorosh Bakhtiar and Nima Garos are moving forward with controversial plans for their taqueria at 162 East Broadway. The Department of Buildings issued permits earlier this month (but pasted to the site this week). Work is for “General construction consisting of the removal of interior non load-bearing partitions, cosmetic finishes, existing plumbing fixtures, and storefront work.”

Needless to say, the alteration went before Community Board 3 two months ago, and scored approval. A 500-foot ruling at the State Liquor Authority is also forthcoming.

(There’s also a petition of protest if you’re so inclined.)

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