Community Board Rejects Avenue U Lounge… Again

816 Avenue U (Source: Robert Fieseler/The Brooklyn Ink)

Just over three months after local leaders emerged victorious in a fight barring a new bar and lounge from opening on Avenue U, the establishment’s owners have tweaked their plans and requested Community Board 15’s approval for a liquor license.

The owners of the business at 816 Avenue U, previously named Pleasure Island, have changed the proposed name to Galaxy, and met with Community Board 15’s executive committee to stress that they were planning a calmer environment by making it a full-fledged restaurant rather than a bar, in an apparent concession to neighbors’ wishes.

The board voted to reject the business’ new proposal, saying that the owners’ histories cast doubt on their promises of working with the neighborhood.

“Who is going to go there and check every night of the week and see if they’re still serving dinner at 1:30 in the morning, rather than operating a bar?” Community Board 15 Chairperson Theresa Scavo told Sheepshead Bites. “Once they get a liquor license, it’s very hard to prove they’re not living up to the stipulations.”

The rejection was spurred in part by Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz, who issued a press release today thanking the board for its decision. He revealed that he had sent a letter to the board urging against approving Galaxy, noting that it still faced many of the same problems as the previous proposal.

His letter stated:

I have gone on record in opposition to this establishment because we simply cannot take a chance with the safety and quality of life for the hundreds of individuals who live in close proximity to this proposed business.  My opposition remains as strong as ever.
Before I detail my specific opposition to PI/G it is imperative that I emphasize  the fact there are already three other businesses with liquor licenses within 500 feet of 816 Avenue U.  New York State law’s “500 foot rule” clearly prohibits new licenses within this radius unless it is in the public’s interest to issue a license.  PI/G clearly is not.
I don’t pretend to be able to predict the future, but examining the record of the previous establishment at 816 Avenue, also known as Pleasure Island, we see a troubling history of disregard for the law, as well as for the quality of life of its residential neighbors.  Of great concern is that one of the owners of the previous Pleasure Island is listed on the documents for the proposed PI/G.
… The State Liquor Authority has already denied a liquor license for this address. They do not issue such decisions lightly. I understand that a new business plan has been submitted that claims to amend PI/G’s operations to make it a better neighbor. With reference to this establishment’s history of disregarding the law, I have serious concerns that if we accept these claims we will be once again living with a neighborhood nuisance when PI/G opens despite these pre-approval assurances. We cannot gamble with the community’s safety and quality of life.

The battle between the operators of Pleasure Island and neighbors around its Gravesend location raged for most of 2011, ending when the State Liquor Authority voted to deny the business a license to serve alcohol. New owners hoped to reopen the location after its previous owners closed up shop, with the area’s Orthodox residents claiming it was a rowdy club that attracted fighting and noise. The new owners sought to reestablish it as an upscale restaurant and lounge, but with one of the previous owners serving as a minority partner in the new business, residents expressed outrage, flooding Community Board 15, 311 and local elected officials with hundreds of calls and complaints.