The Comfort Diner on Grand Street may very well be serving alcohol by the end of the week. After Community Board 3 balked during the summer, owner Ira Freehof went to the State Liquor Authority yesterday, which granted him the right to operate a full bar in the new establishment. Last night, Freehof told us he’s stocking liquor, wine and beer during the next couple of days and should be ready to go by the weekend.
The SPaCE block association objected to the late night hours the Comfort Diner had been proposing, as well as plans to serve alcohol after 10 p.m. in the restaurant’s outdoor areas. CB3 backed up the group, rejecting the permit in September because Freehof did not agree to several operating restrictions. Yesterday, District Manager Susan Stetzer testified against the application on behalf of the board. Freehof, however, benefited from the support of his new landlord, the Seward Park Cooperative. The co-op’s general manager, Frank Durant, offered assurances that the business would not become a nuisance to neighbors. Some local residents also showed up at the hearing to voice their support.
The State Liquor Authority gave Freehof permission to serve until 4 a.m. He’ll be able to offer customers alcoholic drinks outside until midnight on weeknights and 1 a.m. on weekends. But the commissioners required the restaurant to close all windows at 10 p.m., something Freehof had been resisting. He had wanted to serve outside until 2 a.m. SPaCE leader Emma Culbert had this to say last night about the SLA’s ruling:
In the end, the SLA chose to grant a compromise between CB3, SPaCE and Comfort Diner, which weighed heavily on Comfort Diner’s side. SPaCE’s stance was never one of not wanting Comfort Diner to have the ability to gain a liquor license. Our requested stipulations were in line with our continued effort to preserve our cherished corner of Manhattan from befalling the same fate as Hell’s Square. Hopefully, Mr. Freehof heeds the concerns of his newfound neighbors and respects the community in which he has been granted generous rights.
Comfort Diner opened on a limited basis last month. Freehof told us he’s on target to debut breakfast service next Monday. For now, the plan is to open at 7 a.m. (8 a.m. on weekends) and close at 11 p.m., maybe a little later on weekends if there’s enough business to justify it. Comfort Diner replaces Noah’s Ark Deli. Freehof has operated another location of the Comfort Diner in Midtown for 18 years.