The Short-Lived Revival of Epstein’s Bar
Epstein’s Bar, resurrected from a two-year slumber back in January, lasted only a month before closing yet again. Since then, relative quiet at the corner of Allen and Stanton Streets. A printout affixed to the gated entrance continues to explain that the short-lived launch was only a “soft opening,” and that “full menu and brunch hours” are imminent.
That’s not the full story, though. There is reportedly a legal fight raging behind the scenes over the nagging code compliance issues at 82 Stanton Street. Apparently, the problems weren’t resolved ahead of the low-key rebirth.
The heart of the issue, as previously reported, is their Certificate of Occupancy, which outlines commercial zoning that only permits “sales of clothing.” Simple as that. For the last few years, ownership had tried to amend the document to allow for bar-restaurant use (and to expand two floors upward). The drive persisted even after the corporate structure of Epstein’s changed last year (Rick Aurigemma from 310 Bowery Bar and Josh Acheatel joined the team; McManus downgraded to become a minority owner, and Patrick Conlon left.) Without success, though. Pressure from Community Board 3 and the local watchdogs, LES Dwellers, got in the way.
Nevertheless, ownership stuck to it. They reportedly filed a Letter of No Objection – document needed for buildings without Certificates of Occupancy – which helped pave the way for the State Liquor Authority to grant a new license ahead of the reopening. Yet because a CO already exists for 82 Stanton, the LNO was revoked by DOB in mid-February after legal proceedings by Diem Boyd of the LES Dwellers. (The block association had spotlighted this in a recent legal action, directly resulting in the closure of Epstein’s.) Department of Buildings subsequently issued fresh work permits to help correct the building code issues.
“The building that houses Epstein’s hasn’t had a proper certificate of occupancy since Epstein’s opened 14 years ago,” Diem Boyd told us in an email. “A final C of O is some assurance that they are complying with the Building Code and the Zoning Resolution. If they get it, they can open.”
Meanwhile, ownership last week attained a temporary, 90-day CO for the ground level only (occupancy of 6). The liquor license that had been placed in safe keeping by the SLA is now active according to the website. So, perhaps Epstein’s will reopen sooner than you might think…