Tribeca shuts down before 4 a.m.

BY ALINE REYNOLDS | Four a.m. closing times for new restaurants weren’t going to pass muster at last Wednesday’s Community Board 1 Tribeca Committee meeting, no matter how appealing the proposals.

Fearful of late-night disruptions to their peace and quiet, Tribeca residents spoke out against a couple of State Liquor Authority license applications by restaurateurs who requested 4 a.m. weekend closures. The committee members followed suit by voting down the proposed late night closings.

“We’ve really tried at this Community Board to make a decision that, on these small, narrow side streets, we limit these hours,” said Jean Grillo, a public member of the committee. “Coming here and asking for a 4 [a.m. closure] is just not applicable to the community we’re trying to build,” said Grillo to entrepreneurs Caspar Ouvaroff and Chris Miller.

The two men are opening a new restaurant at 54-56 Warren St. later this fall and were instantly shot down when they requested a 4 a.m. closing time for Friday and Saturday nights. The owners said they plan to have the same track record as the restaurant, Lafayette Grill and Bar, which has managed to be a good neighbor despite having late weekend hours for the last 15 years.

“We’re not interested in trying to get a rowdy sports crowd,” Ouvaroff assured the committee. “That’s not in any way, shape or form what we’re looking for.”

Nevertheless, the committee would only approve a 2 a.m. weekend closure with an option to increase their hours once the owners established a good rapport with the neighborhood.

A 4 a.m. closing time is out of the question, according to Karen Stamm, a public member of the committee who lives at 366 Broadway, a residential building on the other side of Cortlandt Alley from the future grill.

“There is no way that something that essentially looks like a sports bar can be [open that late],” Stamm said. “We all have to get to sleep.”

Ouvaroff and Miller seemed to take the committee’s decision in stride. Their goal, Ouvaroff said, is to create a “harmonious” relationship with the neighboring community.

“We wouldn’t be defined by a 4 a.m. liquor license,” said Ouvaroff following the committee meeting. “We’re going to make the community board’s recommendation work for us and the restaurant.”

Entrepreneur Michael Hynes was practically booed out of the room when proposing to open a three-floor, Irish-themed restaurant at 116 Duane St. His proposal was opposed altogether, despite his promise to satisfy nearby residents’ noise concerns by, for example, soundproofing the space’s ceilings and floors.

“I know what it is to operate a restaurant and bar in a residential district,” Hynes told the committee, citing years of experience owning and operating other venues around the city.

Marc Chapman, a lawyer representing the building’s landlord, backed up Hynes’s proposal, saying the owner is “committed to working with the landlord and investing in the [business] as well as the community.”

The committee nevertheless voted unanimously against recommending S.L.A. approval for the restaurant.

“Just because an enterprise will be profitable and employ a lot of people, doesn’t mean this is necessarily the right location,” said Committee Chair Paul Viggiano in summarizing the committee’s objections.

The residential side of the street isn’t an appropriate location for the restaurant, according to Jean Grillo, who lives on the second floor of 116 Duane St. The ground-floor space, she noted, has been vacant for almost two years.

“The foot isn’t going to fit into the shoe you’re going to wear,” Grillo said to Hynes. “I’ve been on the Tribeca Committee for many years and have heard every explanation of soundproofing and deadening, and I can tell you that there’s nothing that’ll prevent the noise that you’re talking about.”

The traffic obstruction caused by fire trucks that line Duane Street, Grillo noted, has had a negative impact on previous restaurants on the block.

“We’ve already had several restaurants attempt to get started on this block and fail,” said Grillo. “And, once they fail, they go immediately to party mode.”

The 4 a.m. closing time, in particular, is “a big problem,” echoed Roanne Kolvenbach, who lives at 74 Reade St. “I got kids waking up in the morning.”

Property owners and businesses on the block are equally opposed to having a new neighboring restaurant — several of whom have written to C.B. 1 claiming it would cause additional traffic on an already-crowded street.

“This block is thriving as a quiet commercial block with several other high-tech stores that depend on easy access,” wrote Abraham Harari, owner of Capital Audio Electronics situated at 120 Duane St. “A restaurant and / or bar at this site would only cause additional traffic and slow down all other existing business activities.”

Discouraged by the negative feedback, Hynes said he would probably scout out another location for the restaurant.