Ridgewood Masonic Temple Has Gone Dry




2010 was not a particularly pleasant year for venue/police relations — see Market Hotel or Santos Party House — and 2011 unfortunately got off on the wrong foot immediately. Ridgewood Masonic Temple, the pretty great Bushwick spot that hosted shows last year by Sleigh Bells, Das Racist, Lightning Bolt, and various others, is going dry, according to a report on recent liquor-license snafus there that finally raised the ire of the cops. As a result, the Titus Andronicus/Real Estate show planned there for New Year’s Eve by promoter extraordinaire Todd P was moved last-minute to a more, y’know, festive location. As Todd put it:

Patrick’s decision to move the event was social as well as economic. “New Year’s Eve is not any fun dry,” he said. “If we don’t sell alcohol, we can’t pay for the place. Unless you’re not paying the talent, you’re either [charging] $25 a head or you’re selling alcohol.”

RMT had been hosting a wide variety of events, which all individually required the promoter to get a temporary liquor permit — one such promoter didn’t get it in time but threw the event with booze anyway. The police showed up, and that’s that: no more temporary liquor licenses. So the shows can go on, but sans alcohol, which makes a world of difference. Todd P generally doesn’t hesitate to call out cops/officials who treat him and other promoters unfairly, but in this case he calls the authorities involved “very understanding,” even as he acknowledges the insane bureaucratic nightmare the place now has to navigate to set this right:

Patrick is well-versed in zoning laws and alcohol restrictions, especially after last year’s police shut-down of illegal venue Market Hotel, which he co-founded and is now trying to reopen as a legal space. He noted that Ridgewood Masonic Temple would need to have a cabaret license in order to then obtain a liquor license, and in this case the cabaret license is itself dependent on the venue renovations. A cabaret license is required for businesses in which patrons are allowed to dance and food or drink is also served.

But, Patrick points out, since the building is not zoned commercially it will not be easy to finance renovations due to RMT’s dubious legal status.

“They’re facing a sad series of catch-22s and unfortunately all signs point to the place disappearing from the Bushwick cultural map,” the promoter said.

RMT Manager Frank Williams says some upcoming shows have been relocated or rescheduled — double-check on those February Deerhoof dates. Todd P’s efforts to turn Market Hotel into a legit, legally harmonious venue continue apace; let’s hope this spot gets absolved, too.

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 3, 2011

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