New Restaurant Denied Liquor License Amid Protests

Despite vocal support from local residents and board members, Community Board 3 voted on Tuesday evening to recommend denial of a full liquor license to a new Latino restaurant on the Lower East Side. The motion specifically recommended that the restaurant, due to open in April 2013 at 106 Rivington St., should be restricted to a beer wine license and remain open until midnight. Due to the disagreement between supporters and opponents, this was the fifth vote on the subject, and the final tally to deny the application for a full liquor license was 16-13.

More than 50 supporters of the application brought picket signs that read “We support 106 Rivington and yes we do live here!!!” They spoke of the restaurant owners’ reputations as decades-long upstanding neighborhood residents and business owners as well as the vision of the restaurant as a family friendly establishment that will add a crucial Latino representation to the neighborhood, which is 24.7 percent Latino. “We think that the public benefit is to offer the Latino community another option that they can go to and eat,” said Enrique Cruz, consultant for the restaurant owners. “Not to club, not to dance; it is a restaurant.”

Opponents of the application, many from the recently formed group L.E.S. Dwellers Association, supported the restaurant but advocated a beer wine license instead, and expressed concerns that the area is already “over-saturated” with noise and litter caused by people drinking late at night.

The size of the proposed restaurant, a two-story building with a capacity of more than 100 customers, also caused unease considering the block’s nickname as “Hell Square.” “What has escalated in my community over the last several years has greatly diminished our quality of life,” said Diem Boyd, who spoke on behalf of the L.E.S. Dwellers and has lived next door to 106 Rivington for 12 years.

In light of the controversy in recent weeks, restaurant owners Jose Rodriguez, 39, and Robert Payne, 49, have previously agreed all 16 stipulations laid out by the community board, such as no live music and closing at 2 a.m. instead of 4 a.m., except for the issue of the full liquor license. Ultimately, the New York State Liquor Authority will have the deciding vote on the liquor license.

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