Soho restaurant questioned by Manhattan Board 2 about noise and crowd complaints

BY GABE HERMAN | While Soho residents have complained of excessive noise and crowds at the restaurant Piccola Cucina Estiatorio, as was recently reported in The Villager, locals have similar complaints against two sister locations of Piccola Cucina in the neighborhood.

One of those other eateries — Piccola Cucina Enoteca, at 184 Prince St. — went before Community Board 2 this month for a review of its method of operation.

At a September meeting of the State Liquor Authority (SLA) Licensing Committee, the manager of the Prince St. restaurant, along with an attorney for the owner, R & G Soho LLC, appeared at the committee’s request to discuss its daily operations and “negative impacts” on the surrounding community, according to a resolution passed at the meeting.

Outside the 184 Prince St. location in Soho. (Photo by Gabe Herman)

Fed-up neighbors showed up to the meeting as well.

“A large number of residents,” the resolution read, “including a building manager representing multiple residential buildings in the immediate area, were in attendance and their statements provided detailed examples of unwanted behavior that in some cases represented violations of their method of operation on their on-premise license.”

The most serious complaints included the 184 Prince St. location functioning more as a lounge than a restaurant, with up to ten loud parties and birthday celebrations per night.

Along with the loud music — which, according to nearby residents, blasts out to the street and nearby residential buildings — patrons are allowed to dance on tables and chairs, and are encouraged to bang on pots and pans.

Alcohol is sold past the allowed time by the liquor license, local residents complained, and the place never closes before 1 a.m.

Other issues raised included customers drinking alcohol outside on the street, with no effort to stop them, and the operation of an illegal sidewalk café.

Residents said that efforts to speak with management about such problems were met with “hostility and threats against their person,” according to the resolution.

This summer, local residents told The Villager of a dismissive attitude from the owner regarding complaints about the nearby sister restaurant at 75 Thompson St.

Local resident Tequila Minsky, who is a contributor to The Villager, recently told this paper that she was asked by a manager why she was taking so many photos of the restaurant.

When Minsky said it was because people were blocking the sidewalks, the reply, according to Minsky, was, “What can I do? We pay $25,000 a month rent. We’re happy for all the business.”

Minsky said the patrons have to be asked not to block the sidewalks, either with an employee outside or a “velvet” rope of some kind to minimize the impact on the surrounding residential area.

Even with residents complaining in recent months to 311 and a local Neighborhood Coordination Officer, Minsky took a photo in September on a weeknight around 8:30 p.m., which she noted had crowds blocking the 75 Thompson St. location. She also noted the windows were open, which neighbors have said lets the music and noise freely spill outside.

On a weeknight in September at 75 Thompson St., crowds were on the sidewalk and windows were open. (Photo by Tequila Minsky)

The CB2 meeting about the Prince St. location included discussions of similar noise and crowd complaints at the two other nearby locations, at both 75 Thompson St. and 196 Spring St.

At the meeting, the restaurant manager, who manages all three locations, acknowledged the banging of pots and pans for birthday celebrations, but said the severity of complaints was exaggerated.

The owner’s attorney denied knowing about local complaints and charges of bad behavior, and said he would tell the owner about such issues.

The SLA Committee and the owner’s attorney agreed that the owner would appear in person at next month’s committee meeting, and that the matter would be held over for 30 days until the owner comes and discusses complaints in person.

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