Liquor board says closing time to popular bar

By Patrick Hedlund

A bar on a busy stretch of Orchard St. on the Lower East Side has been forced to shutter after the state recently denied a liquor-license transfer at the popular dance-music location.

The establishment, 200 Orchard, located between Houston and Stanton Sts., received word Oct. 17 that the State Liquor Authority denied a liquor-license transfer. The ruling, according to 200 Orchard owner Ray Burns, stated, “that it’s not in the best interest of the community” for the nine-month-old bar and venue to possess a license.

Burns applied for the transfer about a year and a half ago and had been operating on a temporary liquor license since opening in February. The space officially closed its doors on Sunday night, the day before the temporary license expired, he said.

“There were actually people crying at the bar,” said Burns, who has collected nearly 1,600 signatures on a petition to appeal the S.L.A. ruling. “I couldn’t believe it.”

Community Board 3 had voted in May 2006 not to support the transfer request, citing that former occupant Orchard Bar had a history of noise complaints. The board also counted 11 liquor licenses on Orchard between Houston and Stanton Sts., and said that “the operation of this license would provide no benefit to the community.”

C.B. 3 District Manager Susan Stetzer noted this particular area “is totally overwhelmed and extremely loud,” and that 200 Orchard hadn’t necessarily been singled out for denial. She said the owners should have been aware of the 500-foot rule, which discourages bar density unless the establishment can prove it’s a benefit to the community.

Burns said he soundproofed the venue, installed surveillance cameras, hired additional security and reached out to the local police precincts. Since opening, he noted, the bar has received no complaints to police or 311. He’ll now look to appeal the S.L.A.’s decision by presenting the petition, letters of support from other local businesses and proof that fewer bars exist on the block than when C.B. 3 made its recommendation last year.

Fresco takes a Go Downtown

Popular Midtown Italian eatery Fresco by Scotto on the Go plans to open another location in the Financial District.

The self-serve sister of upscale restaurant Fresco by Scotto, which caters to the Midtown office community, will operate out of 9,600 square feet at 10 Hanover Square, said Elaina Scotto, vice president of the family business.

The new buffet-style eatery, set for an April opening, will feature only homemade foods with a focus on Italian cuisine.

The space will offer seating for 80, with 18-foot ceilings and large glass windows up front, and also cater private functions.

The owners searched for a year and half before choosing the Financial District, after abandoning Midtown West due to high rents.

The Scotto family, which includes FOX 5 News correspondent Rosanna Scotto, followed the resurgence of office tenants returning Downtown.

“It’s very interesting because after 9/11, we had a lot more customers in our [Midtown] area that were relocated from Downtown,” said Elaina Scotto, who signed a 15-year lease with two five-year options. “And in the past year, a lot of those same people went back Downtown.”

She doesn’t think other FiDi eateries can compete with the Go’s quickness and quality, adding that all meals will be priced under $10. The owners plan to open more on-the-go locations around the city, with possibly one more going Downtown.

What about the Bowery?

That’s what one concerned resident has asked the city as it pushes forward with nearby rezoning plans that disregard the historic stretch.

In an open letter calling on the Department of City Planning to include the Bowery in its rezoning of the East Village and Lower East Side, L.E.S. Residents for Responsible Development member Rob Hollander criticized the city for “exposing the Bowery to out-of-scale hotel development” by withholding the row from a broad proposal.

His letter — which had 76 signatures as of Tuesday — stated that future gentrification and development along the Bowery would spur commercial and residential displacement, landlord harassment, upscale nightlife and “transform Chinatown beyond recognition” if the stretch isn’t included.

“Is this City Planning’s intent for the Bowery and Chinatown?” the letter read. “If this is the city’s plan, then all New Yorkers deserve to know it.”

A response from the department stated that the Bowery had never been a part of the plan because the rezoning sought to focus on the area “most under threat,” said a department spokesperson.

“The existing built character along the Bowery is very different compared with

the lower- to medium-density form of the East Village and Lower East Side,” she said, “and the approach taken within the proposed rezoning does not apply to the Bowery” with its wider avenues and larger built form.

The letter received signatures from a host of community members, including Martha Danziger, former Community Board 3 district manager; Katharine Wolpe, president of the Village Independent Democrats; Don MacPherson, a Community Board 2 member and activist; and activists Frances Goldin, Bob Ortiz and Quinn Raymond, among others.