Gaia Cafe, Liquor Permits News, APL Reviews

The housemade brioche with Nutella is just one of many reasons to wander into Gaia Italian Cafe.

A roundup of restaurant and nightlife news around the neighborhood today.

  • East Houston Street newcomer Gaia Italian Cafe gets some love for its vegetarian options, and this exclamatory remark: “This is Italian Italian food.”
  • This week’s Community Board 3 SLA committee meeting covered a lot of ground: bad news for the bar formerly known as Aces and Eights (formerly known as Mo’ Pitkin’s) and Clinton Street’s CultureFix, but good news for newcomers Masala Wala and Zoe.
  • Early reviews of Orchard Street’s APL are in, and they’re pretty good all around.
  • Something’s going on with the produce market under the Manhattan Bridge.

Aces and Eights’ New Owner Pleads His Case

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.

Follow-up: Aces and Eights Loses Liquor License

Both the neon and the taps are off at Aces and Eights.

Following up on our story last week about the closing of Aces and Eights, we learned yesterday that the embattled East Village bar, which had been operating off the regulation grid for more than a year, has now lost the one key license it did possess.

One of the reasons Aces and Eights succeeded in conducting business without a basic operating permit from the city’s health department was that the previous tenant of 34 Avenue A, Mo Pitkin’s, had possessed a permanent liquor license. That allowed the Aces and Eights management to secure a temporary liquor license and to open its doors (in April 2009) without having to produce any city permits — while its own application for a permanent license was pending. The city shuttered the bar Sept. 14, after finally catching up with the paperwork loophole.

Late last week, the NY State Liquor Authority followed suit, yanking Aces and Eights’ right to serve alcohol.

Health Department Closes “Aces & Eights”

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.”

Good Morning: Aces and Eights Shuttered, Grand Street Construction, Garden Activists Meet

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.