There were plenty of interesting tidbits from Community Board 3’s liquor licensing hearing Monday night. Among them: a bit more information about the team hoping to take over the Motor City space at 127 Ludlow St.
Motor City closed this past summer after 17 years in business. The application filed with the community board earlier this month was short on details about the new concept. So when it was finally time to weigh the proposal the other night (at around 2 a.m.), committee members were working with almost no relevant information.
The applicants said they are creating a menu revolving around skewers, 40-50 varieties from around the world (Japanese, Filipino, Mediterranean, Hawaiian, etc.) There would be 30 tables and ten seats at the bar; the application called for a 4 a.m. closing time. The name listed on the CB3 application was Raymond Yuk; no details were given about his background in the restaurant industry. But he wasn’t the one doing most of the talking. Instead, Joseph Torres, who runs Foundation, the nightlife venue at 137 Essex St. explained the plan to committee members. Earlier this year, Foundation was closed down by the Health Department. In 2011, the venue was one of many local establishments targeted in the 7th Precinct’s nightlife crackdown. But Torres said that since he had taken over the business, the issues with the precinct had been worked out and he enjoyed a positive working relationship with cops in the neighborhood. Torres noted that he previously owned Bar 29 in Murray Hill, a place that closed down due to spiraling rent.
Residents representing the LES Dwellers neighborhood group said they opposed the application because Ludlow Street is so overburdened with bars and clubs. “Anything selling alcohol contributes to the problem,” said Marvin Avilez. Torres countered that his team, including an experienced chef with impeccable credentials, intended to open a full-fledged restaurant, not a bar. After meeting with neighbors, he said plans for a small dj booth were eliminated. As a resident of Essex Street, Torres added, he was “just a phone call away” if any problems arose.
Committee Chairperson Alexandra Militano questioned why the application was so vague, saying “there’s always a benefit to being transparent.” Torres said he wasn’t initially sure of his involvement, which is why only Yuk’s name appeared on the application. Militano also asked why there weren’t more petition signatures from residents in support of the concept. Torres said many locals were reluctant to sign, saying they had “a bad taste in their mouth about Motor City.”
In the end, Torres agreed to withdraw the application and come back to the community board at a later date with a demonstration of more community support.