State Rejects Full Bar at 106 Rivington St.; Calls Area “Over-Saturated”

Here's what 106 Rivington St. could look like when renovations are completed.

Here’s what 106 Rivington St. could look like when renovations are completed.

We have more now on yesterday’s decision by the State Liquor Authority to deny a full liquor license for Jose Orlando Rodriguez and Robert Payne, who are seeking to open an upscale Latin restaurant at 106 Rivington St.  The ruling followed months of controversy surrounding the application, which devolved into an ugly battle encompassing race, gentrification and community board politics.

Donald Bernstein, an attorney representing Rodriguez and Payne, covered many of the same points he made before an administrative law judge back in January.  In short, he argued that the proposed restaurant enjoys “overwhelming support in the community,” that the applicants had modified their plans to address concerns from neighbors and that the business would offer a “public benefit” because there aren’t any latin restaurants of this type on the LES.

Breaking: State Liquor Authority Denies 106 Rivington License

106 Rivington Street.

106 Rivington Street.

A few moments ago the State Liquor Authority denied a full liquor license for 106 Rivington, a proposed Latin themed restaurant. SLA commissioners agreed to approve a beer and wine license if an application is submitted. The applicants indicated they would seek a beer/wine permit

A full report coming up.

UPDATED 5:20 p.m.  Both supporters and opponents showed up in force at today’s SLA hearing. The commissioners heard testimony on both sides before going into executive session and then voting.  SLA Chairman Dennis Rosen said he sympathized with the applicants, and said their contention that the neighborhood needs more Latino restaurants has merit.  He called Rivington Street west of Essex one of the most over-saturated (in terms of liquor licenses) in the whole city, “perhaps the world.”  Rosen concluded that the applicants did not make a sufficient case that the “public benefit” the restaurant would provide “trumpted the 500 foot law,” which is triggered anytime there are already three full liquor licenses close to a proposed licensed establishment.  More to come tomorrow morning…


New Latino Business Group Takes Shape on the L.E.S.

Pitt and Rivington

Pitt and Rivington streets, 2012. Photo by Roey Ahram.

Last week we mentioned the creation of a new Lower East Side group, the Association of Latino Business Owners and Residents (ALBOR). The organization’s founder, Enrique Cruz, made an appearance last night before Community Board 3’s economic development committee, to explain what the association hopes to accomplish.

Cruz, a commercial real estate broker who is also part of the team trying to open a new Latin-themed restaurant at 106 Rivington St., said, ALBOR’s motto is to “maintain and promote residential and business opportunities” for its members.  At the meeting, he was accomanied by Warren Cohn, a consultant working with ALBOR and a member of a well-known Brooklyn political family.

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

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.

Followup: Arguments For & Against 106 Rivington Liquor Permit

106 Rivington Street.

Earlier this month, we reported briefly on the “500 Foot Hearing” at State Liquor Authority offices in upper Manhattan for Jose Rodriguez and Robert Payne, the team planning to open a Latin-style restaurant at 106 Rivington Street.  Now here’s a more detailed account from that hearing, which pitted the operators and their supporters against Community Board 3 and members of the LES Dwellers neighborhood association.

A 500 Foot Hearing is required whenever the location of a proposed full liquor permit is within 500 feet of three or more existing licenses.  In October, Community Board 3 voted 16-17 (two abstentions counted as “no” votes) to oppose the full bar.  CB3, whose decisions are only recommendations to the Liquor Authority, approved a wine and beer license for the two-level, 200-person occupancy restaurant.

State Liquor Authority Holds Hearing on 106 Rivington; No Decision Yet

106 Rivington Street.

The saga surrounding a new restaurant coming to 106 Rivington Street shifted to the State Liquor Authority offices in upper Manhattan yesterday.  The applicants, Jose Orlando Rodriguez and Robert Payne, made their case for a full bar at a 500 Foot Hearing (required anytime there are three or more liquor licenses within 500 feet of a proposed establishment).

Community Board 3 was also represented along with representatives of the LES Dwellers organization, which opposes the new restaurant on a block they believe is already over-saturated with bars and restaurants.  In October, CB3 voted to oppose the full liquor license, although they approved a wine and beer only permit.

An administrative law judge will now prepare a report for the SLA.  Yet another hearing will be scheduled before the full board of the Liquor Authority.  Yesterday’s sometimes contentious hearing focused, as the law requires, on establishing whether the new license would be in the “public interest.”  We’ll have a detailed report on Monday.



106 Rivington Liquor License Hearing Scheduled for January 10 (Updated)

106 Rivington Street.

Shortly after the new year there’s bound to be more controversy surrounding a proposed restaurant coming to 106 Rivington Street.  In October, Community Board 3 narrowly rejected an application from Jose Orlando Rodriguez and Robert Payne for a full liquor license at this location, which happens to be one of the Lower East Side’s most boisterous blocks.  The board said it could support a wine and beer license, but the owners made it clear they have no intention of downgrading their application.  Now the State Liquor Authority has scheduled a hearing on the matter. It’s going to take place January 10.

A new group, the Lower East Side Dwellers Association, has been fighting the application.  The block association’s leader, Diem Boyd, plans to make the trip to the SLA’s uptown offices for the hearing.  It’s a pretty good bet that there will be a lot of supporters of the restaurant on hand, as well.  The owners hired a prominent lobbying firm, Capalino & Company, to help smooth the way through the approval process. 

Community Board 3 Rejects Full Liquor License for Restaurant at 106 Rivington Street

106 Rivington Street.

Last night, Community Board 3 rejected a controversial proposal for a full liquor license at 106 Rivington Street, a location destined to be a large Latin-themed restaurant.  In a 16-17 vote (there were two abstentions which counted as “no” votes), the board decided to recommend to the State Liquor Authority that the application be disapproved. In a followup vote, CB3 approved a beer and wine license and reduced operating hours (midnight closing time) for the multi-level restaurant across from the Hotel on Rivington.

Both supporters and opponents came out in force to testify last night.  Foes of the proposal said Rivington Street has become intolerable on weekend evenings due to an overabundance of nightlife establishments — and the new restaurant would only add to the chaotic scene. Backers argued that the owners, longtime local residents and business owners, had earned the trust of the neighborhood and deserved a chance to prove they could run a responsible venue.

Earlier, this month, in another close vote, CB33’s liquor licensing committee voted to approve the full bar application, after the owners agreed to reduced hours and made other concessions.  The decision is now up to the State Liquor Authority.

More to come…


CB3 Panel Approves 106 Rivington Liquor License, But More Battles Are Ahead

106 Rivington Street.

The owners of a large new restaurant and bar at 106 Rivington Street prevailed at Community Board 3’s liquor licensing committee last night, but the battle is not over yet.  A divided vote (6-4) means another contentious debate is likely when the full board convenes October 23.

On one side last night: Jose Rodriguez and Robert Payne, who are opening a multi-level Latin-themed restaurant in a four story tenement across the street from the Hotel on Rivington.  They were pitted against residents,  many of them part of a new block association, LES Dwellers, who say the neighborhood’s nightlife scene is out of control.

106 Rivington St. Battle Leads to LES Dwellers Assoc.

106 Rivington Street.

Diem Boyd has lived on Rivington Street for 13 years, and in the East Village for seven years before that.  Her block is  pretty peaceful during the day, but come nighttime, this congested stretch just west of Essex Street is a non-stop party zone.  The tenement she calls home is directly across the street from the Hotel on Rivington and its ground-floor lounge open to the street.  Lower East Side hot spots Spitzer’s Corner and Fat Baby bookend the block.  “Starting on Wednesday night from about 9 o’clock until Sunday morning at 4 a.m..” she says, (her street) “is unlivable. The crowds of people, the noise, the club doors open, the music blasting out, people congregating. There’s vomit and urine on every doorstep. It’s like a war zone, really, like we’re under siege.”

So last month when Boyd learned another establishment was planned for 106 Rivington, right next door, she decided it was time to fight back. Along with a few others, Boyd headed for her first community board meeting, prepared to protest the proposal which she felt would ruin what was left of her neighborhood.  The battle did not end that night but became the catalyst for a new organization, LES Dwellers, “a grassroots, community organization trying to salvage what is left of the once vibrant, culturally diverse, and sometimes irreverent community.”