Fight for Hell Square Continues with Potential Sale of Spitzer’s, Fat Baby, and Los Feliz
It’s no secret that Rob Shamlian has been trying to unload his remaining Hell Square holdings over the last few years. Last night, the nightlife operator came one step closer to his dream, when the SLA subcommittee of Community Board 3 approved a sale of assets for two of three area nightclubs.
Ownership behind Boulton & Watt and Drexler’s – Darin Rubell, Jaime Felber, Eric Kruvant – appeared before the panel to purchase Los Feliz, Spitzer’s Corner, and Fat Baby. All are establishments that contribute significantly to the shitty quality of life on Ludlow Street.
Hanging a hat on involvement in Mercadito, Rubell (cousin of Studio 54 scion) posited that Los Feliz would become a three-level, “food focused” Mexican restaurant. But the board wasn’t totally buying it. For one thing, the early kitchen closing and basement lounge lent an air of nightclub. There were two speakers in support of the proposal, and the LES Dwellers in opposition. Founder Diem Boyd cited the report that Hunter College students had prepared last week, which proclaimed Hell Square as the densest concentration of nightlife in the city.
An hour was spent deliberating the best possible resolution, with chair Alex Militano saying that Rubell shouldn’t receive better stipulations than Sarid Drory, who was approved two years ago for a similar sale of assets pitch. In the end, though, the Los Feliz application was approved with scaled back hours – 1am closing time during the week, with 2am on weekends.
The outcome proved nearly identical for Spitzer’s Corner; team Rubell was equally approved for the full liquor license. Stipulations reduced the hours to 2am closing all nights, and more stringency with regard to the garage-door style facade. Boyd provided additional testimony about how the board should consider “public benefit,” given that it’s a new license, and how there really is none. She then accused Shamlian of subsidizing apartments above the establishment to quell any negative backlash from those residents.
Fat Baby wasn’t so lucky, though, as the panel decided to deny the club outright.
Throughout the three applications, Shamlian undercut the proceedings with several outbursts. Par for the course, really. His favorite play – taunting the board with some variation of “you guys hate me, so get rid of me” – was again on display. Later, his desperation became palpable when he accused board chair Alex Militano of being unfair in leveling accusations about the businesses, and hurling insults at Boyd. He acted like a baby, and finally left when it became apparent that Fat Baby would net an outright denial from the board.