SLA Denies ‘La Caverna’ Expansion on Rivington Street, Saying it would ‘Disrupt the Neighborhood’

Posted on: January 31st, 2018 at 5:00 am by

La Caverna will not be expanding its operations into the upper levels of 122 Rivington Street. Indeed, the State Liquor Authority last week denied the applicants in the months-long application to alter their liquor license, noting that the proposed iteration would be “too big” and would “disrupt the entire area.”

Fifteen years after its debut at Rivington and Essex Streets, ownership had proposed an expansion of its nightclub into the ground floor and mezzanine space above, effectively increasing occupancy to approximately 350 people, and to change the method of operation to allow for dancing (the cabaret law was recently struck down). The principals admitted to Community Board 3 in November that they wanted to get back to their roots of an “Italian American” restaurant, which was allegedly the initial intent. That concept barely happened (if at all) in the ensuing years, and instead devolved into an unwieldy nightclub.

The advisory body denied, and the group subsequently went to the SLA for approval.

At the hearing last week, La Caverna presented the changes as a “restaurant” with “background music,” and how this change would allow patrons to “have a bite to eat” and dance. Chairman Vincent Bradley called bullshit when he asked if the kitchen would double to accommodate occupancy. The response was a promise to do that because it wasn’t included in the original plans.

Bradley also referenced the “adamant” opposition of both CB3 and Councilwoman Margaret Chin. The latter politician went the extra step to submit a letter against this proposal.

In the end, the SLA was not convinced about the public benefit argued by the applicants. “I can’t allow something this big in this neighborhood; I think it’s gonna disrupt the entire area,” Bradley noted. “It’s too big 350 [patrons] in a place … and to add DJ and dancing … it’s gonna turn into a nightclub in a neighborhood that can’t have another nightclub.”

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