April 10, 2015 By Christian Murray
The granting of a liquor license for a Hunters Point gastropub was never in doubt but the hours it could operate were far from certain.
Brian Porter, the owner of a new establishment called ‘Gantry LIC’, put forward his case at a Community Board 2 hearing Wednesday that his 47-02 Vernon Blvd gastropub should be granted a license to operate until 4 am.
The board, after hearing about 30 minutes of public comment and much debate, unanimously decided to grant Porter—who also owns LIC Bar– the license to remain open until 4 am.
The battle over the hours was just another example of the pitched battle being waged by Vernon Blvd residents who want to preserve their quality of life by crimping bar hours and blocking the use of backyards—with those who call for fewer restrictions, who argue that Hunters Point is no longer the sleepy town of yester-year.
The hearing, held at the Irish Center, was attended by about 75 people, with most in support of the 4 am closing—although there were still several against it.
Those who wanted the hours restricted cited noise concerns and the likely increase of rowdy late-night revelers. They wanted the bar/restaurant to prove itself as a “good neighbor” before granting it a 4 am license.
However, several attendees supported the 4 am closing on the grounds that Hunters Point is becoming a more vibrant area and that it was unfair to stunt the growth of small businesses. Other attendees spoke in favor of the application based on the strength of Porter’s character.
Porter said that Gantry LIC would be a small bar/restaurant, with room for about 12-14 seats at the bar and dining capacity for about 40 people. He said that the establishment would place a heavy emphasis on food and that he had no intention of using the existing backyard space. He said there would be no live music or DJs.
Porter also said that he was also spending $30,000 on sound proofing the establishment.
Initially, Porter said the kitchen would remain open until midnight, which sparked some debate.
One resident who opposed the 4 am closing hour said the establishment could not call itself a restaurant if it wanted a license for those hours. “Why are you closing the kitchen at 12am and keeping the bar open until 4 am?” she asked.
Meanwhile, Beth Garrett, who lives two doors down from Gantry LIC, wanted the closing time clipped back. “I am in support of curtailing the hours of operation,” she said, as a means to reach a compromise with residents.
Garrett was asked by the board what her relationship was like with Woodbines, the Vernon Blvd. bar/restaurant located next door to her home that has a 4 am license. “They have been very respectful and if we have any complaints we can go directly to them and they respond,” she said.
Some speakers, however, said that with more residents moving in to the neighborhood it was important for small businesses to thrive. “We don’t want to drive people into the city or Brooklyn or Sunnyside—we want to grow as a community.”
Others suggested with population growth, there would be a need for greater services.
The board, after hearing all the arguments, decided to allow Porter to have a 4 am license, although some members wanted him to keep the kitchen open until 2 am. They voted unanimously in his favor.
The board noted that they could call Porter in if there were any problems with his establishment and that he would have to go before the board again in two years when he gets his license renewed.