SLA Denies License to Controversial Sons of Essex Operator for Allen Street Club

Posted on: January 12th, 2018 at 9:53 am by

Controversial landlord-developer Michael Shah and his Line Group nightlife arm were dealt a major blow on Wednesday when the State Liquor Authority denied their proposal for a Mexican nightspot called Dos Cientos.

In the works for nearly a year, Shah and his usual suspects had been trying to convert the three-years-vacant Preserve 24 space at the corner of Allen and East Houston Streets. When their application for a full liquor license was denied outright by Community Board 3 last May, the Line Group played the odds and went straight to the state.

Much like the other venues in its stable – Sons of Essex, Leave Rochelle Out of It, and the 205 Club – the proposed endeavor carried the combined DNA of shady landlord Michael Shah, convicted felon Victor Jung (embezzlement while Treasurer at NBC Universal), and James Choung. This sordid history surfaced, and was one of many negatives – and there were many – that permanently sidelined the endeavor.

What appeared most damning for the applicants was the in-person opposition from State Senator Brian Kavanagh and Councilwoman Margaret Chin, as well as a representative from Assemblymember Yu-Line Niou’s office, all of whom voiced concerns toward the application.

Mark Federman of Russ & Daughters, who owns the building at 179 East Houston which is adjacent to the spot in question, also provided damning testimony. As landlord and “the guy on the ground,” he noted how a clubstaurant of that size would render life “uninhabitable” for his residential tenants upstairs. Federman further explained how, as a member of a family business on the Lower East Side for over a century, he was in the unique position to gauge that Dos Cientos would offer zero public benefit to an area already overrun.

In the end, after nearly an hour of testimony, the SLA leveled a denial for two main reasons: sheer liquor saturation (43 OPs within 500 feet) and overwhelming community opposition.

For the record, said gaggle of local politicians had previously penned the following letter. It reads, in part:

We write to oppose the application for a full on-premises liquor license for “Dos Cientos” at 200 Allen Street on the Lower East Side. Manhattan Community Board 3 outlined its opposition and concerns in a May 27, 2017 resolution. In a letter dated September 22, 2017 to the State Liquor Authority (SLA), Assemblymember Yu-Line Niou along with Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Councilmember Margaret Chin voiced support for the Community Board’s stance and reiterated concerns related to granting the applicant a full on-premises liquor license. Community leaders, local residents, and business owners have also joined the Board in opposing this application. We strongly support Community BOard 3 and our constituents’ resolve that this application should be denied.

As detailed in the Community Board resolution, the applicants have a long history as bad actors in the communities where they operate. Community Board 3 has voiced their concern about Victor Jung. who the Board believes will have a lead role in the operations of this venue and who, in 2008, was convicted of a felony associated with his business operations, as outline in the May 2017 resolution. In addition, the resolution recalls that in 2014 the SLA found the applicants in violation for “improper conduct” and use of an “unauthorized trade name” in relation to another LLC known as 133 Essex Restaurant. In 2015, Manhattan Community Board 2 strongly called for the renewal of the applicants’ full on-premises liquor license to be denied for operating outside the Board’s stipulations.

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