March 20, 2014 By Christian Murray
The operators of the LIC Flea & Food are applying for two liquor licenses– which they say are needed to keep the market viable.
Executives for the LIC Flea & Food market told Community Board 2 last night that they want to cordon off a section of the parking lot at their 46th Avenue and 5th Street location for the purposes of selling liquor. They also want a license to sell liquor from an old ferry that is adjacent to that parking lot at Anable Basin.
Andrew Kirby, president of Plaxall, the company that owns the 24,000 sqf. lot and is a LIC Flea partner, said these licenses were important to the success of the market. Kirby spoke on behalf of Joshua Schneps, the founder, who was on vacation.
“They [the vendors] are telling us they are not getting enough business, and that people who buy a $13 lobster roll want to be able to buy a glass of beer,” Kirby said.
“A lot of these vendors were out summer weekends not selling anything,” Kirby said, adding that, “We may not be able to keep the flea market going if we can’t attract these vendors back… and to do that we need things like this.” He said that there is the “time clock” and that they need to get going with it.
However, the community board had a number of concerns about the licenses—such as the LIC Flea’s close proximity to the PS/IS 78Q, the lack of experience of the operators in running licensed establishments as well as noise and traffic concerns.
Patrick O’Brien, who is the head of the committee that oversees liquor licenses, said that the board was not willing to address the ferry application at this time. “It [the ferry] is in a state of rust and dilapidation and I am assuming there is a lot of work to be done,” he said. Once the plans have become more concrete, he said, then the board will review it.
The operators of the Flea market didn’t dispute that and focused on the application for a license on a portion of the lot. The license would only be for the spring/summer season and the operators pledged that they would only serve alcohol on Saturdays and Sunday when the market was open.
Kathleen Negri Stathopoulos, an attorney representing LIC Flea, said that her clients might just seek a beer and wine license (instead of a full license)–conceding the fact that the school is across the street.
The bar section would cater to as many as 60 people—on a lot that can handle 600 people at its peak.
Stathopoulos said that the license her client seeks is different that most—since it doesn’t deal with a fixed premise, such as a restaurant. She said she is required to send a proposal to Albany and she wants to be able to state that the community board has provided feedback on it.
But O’Brien said that it was premature to say that the community board had provided feedback since it didn’t really know the plans.
“We don’t know where in the lot the bar [area] is going to be,” he said. “We don’t where the entrances are –the dimensions,” he said.
“The law says the center of your entrance to the center of the school entrance has to be 200 ft or more away,” O’Brien said. “You have 210 feet. We need it clarified.”
O’Brien also said that people have lodged complaints stemming from the market. He said some people have complained about there being a lot of noise–while others have expressed concern about pedestrian and automobile traffic, as well as double parking. He said these issues have to be discussed.
O’Brien said he wanted to know whether the operators had a history of running a licensed premise—especially since the flea market caters to large crowds. While Stathopoulos said Schneps and his management team did not, Kirby said Plaxall runs hotels.
The board did not render any sort of decision last night and invited LIC Flea to come to its next committee meeting April 9. Vicki Schneps, the publisher of the Queens Courier and the mother of Joshua Schneps, said the Flea is scheduled to reopen for the year on April 5.
“ I would pray and hope that you can do this in a timely fashion,” she said.
The board said that LIC Flea can work with the board on its proposal prior to the April 9 meeting.