Committee has beef with new Market liquor licenses

By Lincoln Anderson

Responding to residents’ complaints that the Meat Market bar scene has grown too large, Community Board 2’s Business Committee last week voted to deny applications for new liquor licenses for Buddha Bar and for additional liquor licenses for the Hotel Gansevoort.

The committee, whose votes are only advisory to the State Liquor Authority, voted to deny a liquor license for Buddha Bar, a new club planned on 13th St. in the Collier’s Building, as a franchise to the highly successful, chic Buddha Bar in Paris. The committee also voted to deny two new liquor licenses for additional bars on the roof of the Hotel Gansevoort and for a liquor license for a 160-seat outdoor cafe to ring the hotel on Ninth Ave. and 13th St.; because the seats would be within the hotel’s property line, a sidewalk café permit is not needed.

The vote on the Buddha Bar was 4-2 and the vote on the hotel applications was unanimous.

Jo Hamilton, a leading activist in landmarking the historic Meat Market and now in trying to relocate the Flower Market there, was heartened at the results.

“I’m very, very pleased,” she said, “after the past few months that we’ve been going to the Business Committee to say we’ve been having problems,” adding she was also happy at the denial of the application for the Hotel Gansevoort.

Ivy Jeanne Brown, a resident of the Triangle Building on Ninth Ave. and 14th St. and president of the Gansevoort Market Alliance, a new residents’ group, gave thanks to Bob Rinaolo, the committee’s chairperson, for alerting the residents that the hotel item — a late addition — was on the agenda, so that they could wait around and weigh in on it.

“Bob voted with us,” she noted. “Not only was he good, he was really considerate to us at the meeting.”

Those on the committee voting against the Buddha Bar application were Rinaolo, Maria Derr, Rocio Sanz and Carol Yankay. Voting yes were Marc Rosenwasser and another member, possibly a public member.

Brown said Buddha Bar is enticing because it is upscale with good food.

“On the one hand, you want that. On the other hand, you think about a 1,400-person-capacity club that brings in 1,600 people a night,” she noted. “And there’s the smoking issue — which is a problem with even normal-sized restaurants. You’re going to have 100 people smoking on the street at a time.”

Making the pitch for Buddha Bar were Jean-Yves Haouzi and Mickael Delaselva. Haouzi formerly worked at Buddha Bar in Paris. He bought the license rights from Jean-Jacques Murey, Buddha Bar’s president, to open an offshoot in New York; Delaselva is doing public relations for Haouzi.

Previously, Raymond Visan, a partner in Buddha Bar in Paris, tried to open a Buddha Bar in the Chelsea Market. He put $2 million into renovating the space, but the plan fell through due to uncertainty caused by 9/11 and then the Iraq War, and he ultimately lost $3 million, said Delaselva.

Delaselva said Buddha Bar in Paris is mainly a restaurant where diners listen to Buddha Bar’s own music, which is “very ethnic, very chill, like Zen.” He said the place would close at 1 a.m., just like in Paris.

“Actually, I was not that surprised at the answer of the community board,” said Delaselva. “It was difficult with all the neighborhood before [when Visan was trying for the location in Chelsea Market].” He claimed the restaurant would have 230 seats.

“These guys look responsible,” said Brown. However, she said the community wants things like a museum, art center or movie theater in the Market — not more bars and clubs.

The main reason for the denial of the hotel’s application was “insensitivity” to residents, namely, the time it boomed its rooftop sound system over the neighborhood — from which some residents are still shellshocked.

“If there’s an event on the roof, we’re just slammed,” said Brown.