Feb. 3, 2014 By Christian Murray
Two business owners with plans to open restaurants on Vernon Boulevard are likely to face some wary residents when a public hearing is held next month concerning the fate of their liquor license applications.
Tom Blaze, a Long Island City resident, has applied for a beer & wine license for a pizzeria at 47-23 Vernon Blvd, where he also wants to use his backyard space. Meanwhile, David Shifeh seeks a full liquor license for a Mediterranean restaurant to be located at 10-17 Jackson Avenue–the corner of Vernon Blvd and Jackson Ave.
Liquor licenses are not easily obtained on or near Vernon Blvd—and there have been several pitched battles between residents and business owners in the past decade over their issuance. Many businesses have been forced to accept the loss of backyard space or have had to limit their business hours in order to get such a license.
The red-hot debate about liquor licenses surfaced about a decade ago and ultimately led to a popular bar/restaurant (the now defunct Lounge 47, at 47-10 Vernon Blvd) being denied the use of its backyard space, following a litany of noise complaints.
Since then, businesses such as Woodbines (which now occupies the former Lounge 47 location), Alobar and Blend have agreed not to use their backyard space in order to get a license. Some bars/restaurants have also agreed to cut back their hours.
Last week, Blaze, who intends to open his pizzeria in a few months, came prepared to a Community Board 2 committee meeting to discuss his wine and beer license application.
Blaze told the committee that the landlords on his block reached out to their respective tenants and found no one with any concern about his use of the backyard space or his beer/wine license application. He brought with him to the committee meeting the signatures of those landlords.
Blaze told the committee that he wants to be able to use the backyard so he can offer the space as a place where families can have pizza parties. “Nothing beats a pizza party, where kids can make their own pizza,” he said.
Blaze plans to set up two communal tables with up to 20 seats in the backyard. He said he would close up the space by 10 pm every night.
But the committee—which often makes its recommendation at a given meeting– said it was not able to render a decision given the pizzeria’s Vernon Blvd location.
“That is not going to happen at this committee [tonight]. There is too much fire down there over this with this issue,” said Pat O’Brien, who led the Community Board 2 City Services Committee meeting.
O’Brien said the board needed feedback from the community—through a public hearing–before a recommendation could be made.
Restaurants seek the support of Community Board 2 in their quest to get a liquor license, since it has significant influence with the State Liquor Authority, which has the final say.
Meanwhile, a representative of David Shifeh, who seeks a full liquor license at 10-17 Jackson Avenue, was told that too he would be subject to a hearing next month.
“Many people think there are too many liquor licenses on Vernon Blvd and it is turning into Chelsea,” O’Brien said at the meeting last week. “This too will be going to the [same] hearing.”
A firm date for the hearing has not yet been set.
Meanwhile, Community Board 2 Chairman Joe Conley, who has refereed many bruising encounters between residents and business owners over the years said: “We are concerned as to what people think…and we have to respect people’s quality of life.”
However, Conley said: “We are never going to say no [to a business] out of hand.”
Location of Mediterranean restaurant (10-17 Jackson)
Can we stop having mediocre “theme” food restaurants with outrageous pricing that so do not match the taste and quality? There are some great restaurants down on Vernon but there are also some that reminds me of bad Manhattan dining ( terrible food, even terrible pricing).
It would be nice to have more coffee/cafes around ( Sweetleaf is great but they close at 7pm). Community tea is awesome but that’s pretty much it. Also, can we have more decent brunch places..Cafe Henri is pretty much the only place I go and Tournesol wasn’t open for brunch a few weeks back.
Joe Conley, please do all the people you say you represent a favor and QUIT! If you don’t like the noise then why don’t you move to Ohio. This is NYC what makes this city what it is, is the nightlife, the business opportunities, the diversity, the investments. We have to move forward more business wil open if you don’t like it then I can pay you the trip to a more quiet city for you to retire.
Well I just said that to make your point you don’t need to insult people who don’t share your opinion. Enjoy your pizza, wherever you buy it.
Right Js. They are not whiners b/c they have a different opinion than I, they’re whiners b/c they’re whining. About pizza and liquor licenses no less.
And I’m right – if you believe that the Italian restaurants that bake pies are the equivalent of real NYC pizzerias, the odds are extremely high you come from elsewhere. No dis, just a common sense observation.
All kidding aside –
Being new to the area … it seems way to hard for people to open establishments. A crazy amount of apartments have gone on the market and not enough culinary options are being allowed to open. Part of having a good community is having establishments to frequent. allow people to open a small business.
why do people automatically think that a liquor license is going to make this neighborhood into a zoo? would people rather have empty store fronts? makes no sense. its Long Island City – not some suburban town. noise is ok – atmosphere is ok – fun is ok.
It is not because you have a different opinion than others that automatically these are whiners or out of town or they have nothing else to with their hands.
You could have just said that you would like to have a better place to eat pizza on Vernon and everybody would have respected that.
Waaah waaah too many places serve liquor. Waaah waah too much pizza.
If you take even one second to bitch about pizza, one of the world’s great pleasures, you have way too much time on your hands. Consider yourself lucky to have no real problems.
And as Ms. Loren already mentioned, it’s supposed to be a slice joint. Not only do we NOT have a glut of pizza in the neighborhood, we have a dearth. The only place around here resembling a traditional NYC slice joint is a fuckin disgrace.
Now I’m gonna get all cliche and assume that the whiners are out-of-towners who don’t understand or appreciate the place that traditional slice joints have in NYC.
It was sad when Lounge 47 went out. It’s a shame that a few crybabies ruin it for everyone.
There was one person who complained and complained for years about Lounge 47. He and his wife put up signs and did all sorts of weird stuff to protest. He picked on Blend too.
10 years later he is on the community board. How did he get this job? How is this person objective and fair minded and in a position to judge?
Maybe we need a restaurant owner or a business owner on the board?
The new pizzeria coming to Vernon Blvd will be pizza by the slice NOT a brick oven pizza. I am very excited to have a real pizzeria coming to LIC.
Too many liquor licenses? More like too many crappy restaurants.
One more pizza place on Vernon? Really?