Despite the charge that it poses an “imminent danger to life or public safety,” La Esquina was apparently up to building code when it opened in 2005.
The restaurant’s co-owner, Derek Sanders, told the Post that the city also approved an addition to his establishment in 2006, and that the violations that led to yesterday’s closure by the Department of Buildings all cited “the new 2008 building code, even though our building has always fallen under the old code.”
Sanders and co-owner Serge Becker are working to make modifications to the building so that they can re-open; apparently it will take “days to resolve” and is hurting the restaurant’s staff, who are temporarily out of work.
Meanwhile, Georgette Fleischer, the neighbor who lodged the initial 311 complaint (about smoke venting from the windows) that led to the restaurant’s shutter, told the paper that Becker and Sanders “are acting like barbarians” and warning, Cassandra-like, that “it’s only a matter of time before someone loses their life.”
Wanting to prevent a tragedy of Great White proportions is admirable, but Fleischer, as Eater noted, hasn’t historically been particularly sympathetic to La Esquina, or really any other new neighborhood business that caters to people who like to go out after 9 p.m.: most recently, she appeared at a Community Board 2 meeting in February to protest Michael White’s planned trattoria on Lafayette Street, saying, “My fear is that it will join Cafe Select at 212 Lafayette, La Esquina at 114 Kenmare, and Kenmare at 98 Kenmare, and, for that matter, Travertine at 19 Kenmare…In a nightspot-hopping area that leaves residents like me awakened at two, three, four in the morning when these drunk and drugged-out fleets move fabulously from one hotspot to the next.”