Last night’s Community Board 2 SLA & DCA Licensing Committee Meeting was a four-plus-hour slog through the lower intestine of the West Village and Soho restaurant industry, replete with irate residents, raised voices, and at least one shockingly obtuse proprietor.
But the highlight was undoubtedly the news that Chumley’s, the historic pub at 86 Bedford Street that closed more than two years ago after a partial building collapse, is on track to open, “optimistically,” in six months, according to Jim Miller, one of the firemen-partners behind the bar. Miller said that when it re-opens, Chumley’s will have “85 to 95 percent of all of its interior — everything is going to be the same.” Miller saved the vast majority of the bar’s fixtures and decorations after the collapse, and has been keeping everything in storage. The bar’s menu will change a bit, and, thanks to concerns raised by one of its neighbors, will stay open until 1 a.m. Monday through Wednesday, 2 a.m. Thursday through Saturday, and midnight on Sunday.
In other news, the owners of the Mott faced off against neighbors enraged by their plan to turn the basement space formerly occupied by Double Happiness into an extension of their restaurant, which hasn’t been enjoying particularly good business. One neighbor in particular staged a very noisy protest, saying that the 140-person capacity was too large, the kitchen too small, the space from the curb to the basement entrance too narrow, and the plans to have the building’s fire escape serve a two-floor restaurant “so scary that I can’t even go further on that one.”
Plans to open a “high-end sports bar” in the former Country Club at 248 West 14th Street also met with objections from the committee, who warned that opening a bar a “row of heavy-duty drinking establishments” between Seventh and Eighth Avenues would “be hell” for the neighbors.
The former Leela Lounge space at 1 West Third Street is set to become a gastropub, while the former Yama space at 92 West Houston Street is in the process of being converted into the Pear Tree Cafe, a pan-European restaurant from the owner of the Firefly bar and restaurant on Spring Street and the Merion Square Bar & Grill on the Upper East Side.
Perhaps the most egregious display of bad restaurant and neighbor relations of the night was courtesy of Moomia, the 157 Lafayette Street restaurant that’s incurred 78 311 calls from its neighbors, three of whom showed up to present the committee with inch-thick documentation of their woes. Despite his original 2005 application to open Moomia as a restaurant with background music only, the owner has been operating it as a club in all but name only, complete with DJs, live music, and dancing. “When people start dancing, I cannot stop them,” the owner protested, to everyone’s amusement and no one’s sympathy.