Loud Soho restaurant ‘destroyed block’: Neighbors

BY GABE HERMAN | Even amid all the bustling nightlife in Soho, one restaurant in particular is causing a lot of local headaches.

Several neighbors say that for the past couple of years, Piccola Cucina, an Italian restaurant at 75 Thompson St., between Spring and Broome Sts., has hosted loud parties, often late into the night that spill out onto the sidewalks.

Locals say the big parties can include singing, clapping, cheering and even banging pots and pans. This is despite the June 2016 resolution by Community Board 2 for the place’s liquor license, which stipulated that music must be kept inside, at a background level, and that there would be no promoted events or use as a nightclub, lounge or tavern.

A group outside Piccola Cucina restaurant on a recent Friday around 11 p.m. (Photo by Tequila Minsky)

One neighbor, who wished to remain anonymous, said the restaurant is listed on a party Web site, and one night she saw a big white bus from New Jersey pull up and let a group into the restaurant. It was labeled “party bus” and sat outside the restaurant with the engine idling for hours.

“It’s like a club scene,” said Natalie Swan, another neighbor. “The party scene is their trademark. It’s what brings people in, what they’re known for.”

Piccola Cucina installed big glass doors facing the sidewalk, which the C.B. 2 resolution stipulated must be closed by 10 p.m. every night. But neighbors say the doors often stay open later and let music blast out to the street and nearby apartments.

“It’s a loud, boisterous establishment,” said Christine Calabrese, who also lives nearby. She said there could sometimes be multiple birthday parties — as many as three or four — there in one evening.

Calabrese and others described large groups that end up outside on the sidewalk, blocking pedestrians and forcing them to walk in the street, and smoking and leaving cigarette butts everywhere.

The parties can sometimes go until 2 a.m., according to another neighbor, who asked to remain anonymous. The C.B. 2 resolution called for the restaurant to close by midnight every night of the week.

Residents say the business leaves garbage cans out front, causing the area to stink, and the sidewalks are often filthy after a night of partying at the place.

The scene outside Piccola Cucina on a recent Friday around 11 p.m. The restaurant’s front doors are supposed to be closed by 10 p.m., according to a stipulation in a C.B. 2 resolution. (Photo by Tequila Minsky)

Locals told similar stories of talking with the owner and getting a dismissive attitude about their complaints.

The C.B. 2 district manager did not respond to questions about whether the community board is aware of complaints about Piccola Cucina.

When the restaurant was contacted by this paper about the neighbors’ complaints, a manager responded with a message from “Piccola Cucina Group” that said when music is played there during weekend parties, it’s always with the doors closed.

“We always keep cleaned and peaceful our space,” the response said.

The message added that people smoking outside or being drunk, plus all of the garbage on the street, is not coming from Piccola Cucina.

“There are a lot of problems in the neighborhood,” the restaurant group said.

Several neighbors said that repeated calls to 311 were useless and that it typically would take hours before police responded to the scene to address the conditions.

Another neighbor, Tequila Minsky, who is a contributor to this paper, has been in touch with a Neighborhood Coordination Officer (N.C.O.) at the First Precinct regarding the restaurant. Around July 10, the officer said that he spoke with the place’s manager about closing the doors and windows and ensuring that the sidewalk was passable. The manager reportedly said she also would speak to the night managers about these issues.

The N.C.O. told Minsky that police would continue to monitor the situation and that an open dialogue with the restaurant would continue. And he said if there is still no progress, he would see what enforcement action could be taken.