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Mendez: Talk of Racism in 106 Rivington Controversy “Needs to Stop”

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106 Rivington Street.

At last night’s Community Board 3 meeting, City Council member Rosie Mendez took a few moments to address the controversy surrounding a new restaurant coming to 106 Rivington Street.  The State Liquor Authority will soon rule on an application from operators Jose Rodriguez and Robert Payne for a full bar.  Members of the LES Dwellers neighborhood group oppose the permit, saying Rivington Street is already overburdened with nightlife establishments. In a close vote, CB3 chose not to support the application, although it did sign off on a beer/wine permit for the Latin-style restaurant.

Mendez told community board members she knows some of the people involved in the new business and they have asked for her support.  Mendez did not indicate which way she was leaning but as an aside said, “I am disturbed by some of the rhetoric (surrounding this application) calling people racist.”  Mendez was referring to comments that followed an article in support of the applicants  by LES documentarian Clayton Patterson in the Villager.   Some of the comments took aim in a personal way at CB3 District Manager Susan Stetzer, CB3 Chairperson Gigi Li and Diem Boyd, the leader of LES Dwellers. “Being against bars doesn’t make you racist,” Mendez said, “and I think that kind of talk needs to stop.”

Mendez represents Council District 2, which is mostly centered above East Houston Street.  Margaret Chin represents City Council District 1, where the new restaurant is located.  Matt Viggiano, who works for Council member Chin, echoed Mendez’s sentiments last night concerning the injection of race into the liquor license debate.  Chin wrote a letter to the SLA in opposition to the application at 106 Rivington.



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  1. Funny thing is, the comments on that blog were so obviously by one or two people. The length, diction, timing, formatting (CAPITALIZATION), names, were all consistent. The Villager outta tweak their setup of IntenseDebate to improve the discussion quality.

  2. I agree with you Mike… I also believe these comments are coming from the same source. I do not understand why the opposing team, are turning this into a racist debacle. Mr. Rodriguez and his partners, never brought up a race issue. They seem like honest, ambitious, hardworking people, who want to succeed in their community. The opposers, are portraying themselves as the victims in this matter.

  3. Whoa, what? Sorry, but I think you misunderstood me. I read through all of the comments, and the ones that claimed CB3 racism were all in support of 106 Riv. The ones that called out those claims as unfounded and unproductive were opposed to 106 Riv.

    I can’t even imagine by what logic the opposition would bring up race.

    Don’t get me wrong; I agree that the 106 Riv proprietors seem like honest people. I agree that they’re not trying to open a club. Unfortunately that doesn’t change the fact that they’re trying to get a full liquor license in an extremely oversaturated resolution zone that has been witness to fights and vandalism.

    If there are other full licenses in Hell Square resolution zones that the Dweller leadership are selectively ignoring, then they will lose absolutely lose their resident support.

    I’m up for a more creative solution. For example, the community can work together to identify establishments that are locally-owned, or in some way support local causes and culture, versus ones that outside-owned and do not invest in the community. As a community, we can coordinate actions *over the long term* to get non-community-oriented liquor licenses revoked so that community establishments can have them.

    Either way, the problem developed over a long period of time, so it won’t be resolved in the short term.

  4. Your saying this about the supporters with what proof? Im sorry but, that he said she said don’t count without any proof. I agree with harry on this, why would they or any of there supporters bring that up now? When they never mentioned it in the first place. I know who the real victims are… Your talking about saturated areas, last month cb3 approved a full liquor license on ludlow a block that already has 7 full liquor licenses. You want to explain this? Why yes to everybody else and not them?

  5. It is amazing how people fail to realize what’s going on here. Mike did you know that the CB3 voted unanimously 30 to 0, to approve a full on-premises liquor license at 180 Ludlow Street from the hours of 8am – 4am everyday. I know this is going to be a hotel, however I thought that resolution area is resolution area no matter what. Where was the outrage at the meetings from the L.E.S. Dwellers and Susan on that application. Actually, Susan gave an interview to a publication stating her support for 180 Ludlow because the owners, who are not from this neighborhood, are utilizing the LES Employment Network. Guess what? The owners of 106 Rivington Street have reached out to the LES Employment Network, according to the SLA Hearing. Mike, our community believes there will be enough proof that will come out that will show how biased Susan was against this application. The LES Dwellers’ true intention will become obvious with time. I love how the truth always rises to the top!

  6. If that’s true, it’s a shame. I don’t think many of the “rank and file” in LES Dwellers are aware of it, and it’s important to distinguish between it’s leadership and it’s membership. What I would like is some impartial journalistic coverage of this issue.

  7. I can’t explain it and honestly, I’m with you on wanting to know why LES Dweller leadership ignored that one as well. I do know they went after Tiny Fork, Sunshine Cinemas, and Co-op, so it’s just incorrect to imply they’re singling out 106 Riv.

    Regarding “proof”. I, like this blog article, have been referring to the written comments on the Villager article. Just go read the comments.

    Supporters using race:

    Opposers criticizing use of race:

  8. Mike, I don’t know how to post links like you did. However, go to CB3, go to the minutes page and select December’s full board minutes. Look at the last page to see the vote count and then see if you think it is fair. I don’t believe that any of those owners are from the neighborhood or were born or grew up here. I don’t wish those guys bad and I wish them success in their business. However, it is very shameful that Susan Stetzer who claims that Rivington Street and Ludlow Street are so saturated, to come out in support of 180 Ludlow Street (she is mentioned in an article by this same news outlet in support) and wholeheartedly against the owners of 106 Rivington Street. By the way you try and separate the leadership of LES Dwellers from it’s members. Why would you try and do that? Do you see something that our community has already recognized?

  9. This whole race thing was made up by the opposing party. I know what the story was. Let’s make up these comments that way these latinos look like there throwing in the race card, then susan would play the victim and reaches out to Ms.Mendez a latin council woman, and claims her heart felt story. Convinces ms. Mendez to publicly say to her latinos stop the racism calling, going against a “BAR” is not racist… Nice try guys! I could read between the lines. People are asking why they insist on Hell Square? Well, there are lots of reason’s why, Ill give you a few. First reason since this license got denied CB3 has approved several full liquor licenses in which people consider Hell Square, Don’t go by what Im saying look at the CB3 calendar and minutes. Second they have overwhelming support from this community. Third they have other successful businesses in this area. Fourth they live in the neighborhood so they would be more attentive to there business unlike the owners that don’t. Fifth they are a restaurant, different from anything on this block an in Hell Square. Let them proof both sides rite or wrong.

  10. What happened here was a travesty. Usually communities and societies hold up guys like Jose, Enrique and that team as true success stories. This community beats them down to the point where they are pleading for a license that others have come from the midwest, the west and no where near the LES and they get a smile and their license. This is Ridiculous!!!! NEVER AGAIN…. NEVER AGAIN….. Our community was truly hurt by this and will now form an alliance so that we can be heard. And we will Remember!

  11. Let me weigh in on this topic…..It is pretty obvious that The Lower eastside dwellers was created for one purpose and one purpose only and that is to oppose 106 Rivington….Smh Susan stetzer racist or not has been leading the charge with them to oppose this restaurant of local guys while she was lobbying to approve 180 Ludlow st which by the way is located in this ‘supposedly saturated area’ CB3 is a joke if you ask me. Not only that I got wind that they misled local politicians to get their support to oppose. I truly hope all the Latino’s from the community are taking notes and remember this when it’s time to come out and vote. I for one will and trust me I will be one to spread the word during election time. It’s a disgrace to say the least!

  12. @lunalot:disqus indeed it’s a shame , but true. It’s sad to note that 106 are being singled out by this newly formed group and cb3’s susan stetzer. For the simple fact that it’s next door to the newly form group leaders house. Ring a bell? Literally!!!

  13. In my opinion elected officials with all due respect, should not get involved in this matter. They should stay neutral for the fact that both parties are from the neighborhood. There has been a lot of support from local residents. Before any politician starts to comment or take sides they should hear both sides, not just one. This is a “restaurant” people not a “bar”. Susan and her team are making up lies to get these elected officials support. Why aren’t these officials being told about other application getting approved with full liquor and 4am closing? Within a few feet from this location. It’s not who you are anymore is who you know. This isn’t right!!!

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