Search for détente on E.U.

By David Spett

Some members of the E. Fourth St. A-B Block Association have shifted their opinion on a beer and wine license for the European Union restaurant, a turn of events that may allow the restaurant to sell alcohol after all.

“I’d like to see something work out,” said Frank Macken, the block association president, who previously opposed a liquor license for E.U. “It could be a model for the kind of restaurant we’d like to have in our neighborhood.”

E.U., at 235 E. Fourth St. has been closed since the week of May 14. The State Liquor Authority denied its request for a liquor license in early March, citing a rule that makes it harder to obtain a liquor-license in an area where there are three within 500 feet of each other. The S.L.A. also cited opposition from Community Board 3 in its decision.

Restaurant owner Bob Giraldi said he closed the restaurant because it was unprofitable to operate without alcohol.

But after a block association meeting on June 22 attended by Giraldi and his wife, Patti Greaney, both parties said they were looking for a compromise that might allow E.U. to obtain a beer and wine license, which is more limiting than a liquor license.

A June 8 meeting between Giraldi and the block association was tense, attendees said, but the meeting last week was far more civilized.

“I thought it was very fair,” Greaney said of last week’s meeting. “I thought both sides were able to voice their opinions.”

Opinions on the block are split “about 50-50,” Macken said. “Some are adamantly opposed, some are more pragmatic.”

Community Board 3 district manager Susan Stetzer said the board’s S.L.A. committee will not organize against the beer and wine license if the block association does not oppose it.

The block association took a poll at its last meeting and will canvass residents this week to gauge opinion. After another meeting this week, the association will issue an official opinion on the beer and wine license.

The association is considering two options: opposing the license outright or negotiating stipulations to the license, such as limited hours when beer and wine may be sold, Macken said.

Ellyce di Paola, who lives on E. Fourth St. and previously opposed a beer and wine license vigorously, said her opinion now “tends to change with the weather.” Her biggest concern about negotiating is that the stipulations might be difficult or impossible to enforce.

“It’s a little bit like a marriage certificate doesn’t prevent adultery,” she said. “The existence of a document requires good faith on all parties’ parts.”

Regardless of whether E.U. obtains the beer and wine license, Greaney said the restaurant would reopen, but she is unsure when.

“It certainly wouldn’t be something that we would be happy with if we don’t get the beer and wine license,” she said. “The people that come in to have the type of food we are serving like to have a glass of wine with their meal.”