Last week we told you about a new restaurant planned for the corner of Essex and Canal. A Community Board 3 committee signaled its support for a liquor license for the still unnamed establishment at 1 Essex. But last night local residents appeared before the full Community Board to protest the decision. They did not come to the committee meeting because they said the application had been removed from the published agenda. During the committee meeting, even some board members seemed surprised the “1 Essex” application was, in fact, going to be heard. Chair Alexandra Militano said she had not read the application in advance because she believed it was not on the agenda.
The people who spoke last night said there are already 11 liquor licenses within 500 feet of “1 Essex.” If there are already three restaurants/bars with liquor licenses within 500 feet of a business seeking permission to serve alcohol, the committee requires that business to prove the “public benefit” of awarding a new license. The residents said they do not want to see the area below Delancey become another Rivington Street, over-saturated with late night bars and clubs. The group asked CB3 to send the issue back to the committee, so that they’ll be able to voice their opposition.
During last week’s meeting, committee members did not seem to view the application as particularly controversial, and not only because no one was present to oppose it. The board members appeared to agree that the proposed restaurant is not in an area over-saturated with liquor licenses.
At last night’s session there was a more general debate about the awarding of liquor licenses. Most members expressed the sentiment that the infestation of bars on the Lower East Side has seriously harmed the quality of life in the neighborhood. There was a dissenting point of view. Board member Meghan Joye voiced the concern that restaurants, small businesses that fuel local economies, should not be run out of town.
Repeated efforts to reach the owners of “1 Essex” have been unsuccessful. We’ll be following this one closely. Stay tuned.