The Fat Baby Space on Rivington Street is Again Epicenter of New Community Battle
When it comes to nightlife, few areas attract the controversial quite like the tiny block of Rivington Street, between Ludlow and Essex, in Hell Square. And so it goes that the problem child formerly known as Fat Baby is back in the center of a new battle with the community.
The battlefield was set Monday night at the SLA subcommittee of Community Board 3, where the applicant for 112 Rivington Street, Erinson Salce of Sahara East, aimed to secure a liquor license for a new Latin concept. The (not so) Suave Bar & Restaurant raised all the red flags.
The meeting was a shitshow that devolved into a screaming match. Salce claimed he is from the neighborhood and the establishment would be local; cautious neighbors feared a potential bait-and-switch in the making to a “hookah club.” There were stark similarities to another lightning rod applicant from 2012 at 106 Rivington just down the block. Namely, the evocation of the race card as reason for the opposition.
Committee chair Alex Militano Shot down that argument, though, blaming a lack of history of the space and incomplete responses to questions as reasons for the resistance.
The Lower East Side Dwellers came prepared with the surprise revelation that Salce listed the wrong landlord in the 30-Day Notice to SLA, putting Shazad Khan, even though Jiu Zhang of JPZ Holding LLC owns the commercial space at 112 Rivington. The group’s research found that Shazad Khan is potentially a realtor who also reps the apartment directly above (which is for rent). This unit is also reportedly under the possession of Jui Zhang.
“The community opposition to this application was a campaign against the continuation of living miserably as a result of living among the highest concentration of late night liquor licenses in the State of New York,” Dwellers head Diem Boyd told us. “To decry local opposition as racist for not wanting another late night business with liquor, DJs, live music and outside corralling is self-serving and not based in reality.”
This ammunition, coupled with the principal’s nine-year stint at Sahara East in the East Village, bolstered the opposition. That and the myriad signatures from the Hell Square environs against the proposed establishment, including 14 businesses.
(The address listed for the landlord (Khan) is 7703 New Utrecht Ave in Brooklyn New York which links PM Grocery Corp at a tobacco retailer.)
In the end, while a majority of the committee was constructing the motion to deny, one board member instead told the applicant to withdraw and return at a later date. Which they did, undermining the process.
This fight is only the beginning.