One person with more than a passing interest in tomorrow night’s Community Board 3 meeting is this man – Rafik Bouzgarrou, the owner of Angelina Cafe, located at 36 Avenue A. No, he’s not applying for or trying to renew a liquor license. Instead, Rafik’s modest neighborhood spot has become part of the conversation about the controversial proposal for a bar/restaurant/performance space next door, at 34 Avenue A.
Last week, CB3’s SLA Committee failed to agree on a resolution of support or opposition for “Piney Woods,” a new concept from Lower East Side restauranteur Phil Hartman and music promoter Todd Patrick. So it will be up to the full board to decide what to do tomorrow evening about the latest plan for the infamous “Aces & Eights” space (which was also the onetime home of Mo’ Pitkins).
Jevan Damadian never expected to land behind the bar at the former Aces and Eights.
Tongues and keyboards wagged throughout the East Village this fall as the saga of Aces and Eights bar unfolded: the city shut it down for lack of a health permit, it secured the permit and reopened 10 days later, only to have the state decline to renew its liquor license and shut it back down late last month. Meanwhile, the owner of the other Aces and Eights uptown distanced himself from the Avenue A establishment he had run for almost two years, saying the two bars were no longer affiliated.
But one voice that was missing was that of the investor who bankrolled the downtown venture and who, after months of legal wrangling with his former partner, now stands in possession of a nearly 3,000 square foot space that sits dark and empty every night, for lack of permission to sell its $9 cosmopolitans and $6 Brooklyn Lagers.
In the spring and summer of 2009, shortly after its opening, the Aces & Eights bar at 34 Ave. A generated a firestorm of complaints from the neighborhood. It was not a unique debate, just one more episode in the bar vs. neighbors drama that plays out all over the city.
But the Aces & Eights uproar, it turns out, probably could have been avoided altogether: the bar never obtained permission to open its doors, according to city officials.
On Tuesday, the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene shuttered the 18-month old watering hole for lack of a valid operating permit. It had been cited for the same violation in April 2010, and ordered not to reopen until the permit was issued, according to the health department’s public affairs office.
A note signed by “the management and staff” posted in the window Wednesday attributed the closure to “unforeseen paperwork/permit issues” and promised that they were “currently doing everything in our power to make sure we will reopen again tomorrow.”
Photo by Jennifer Strom
If you’ve walked past the bar Aces and Eights, 34 Avenue A, in the last couple of days, you might have noticed those tell-tale yellow signs indicating the business has been closed by “order of the Health Department.” Lo-Down contributing writer Jennifer Strom has been looking into what led to the closure. The chain of events she’ll detail later this morning makes for quite an illuminating story.