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ZERO TOLERANCE IN TRIBECA
Not even a Tribeca bar can open up in Tribeca anymore.
Beloved local dive bar Raccoon Lodge, which has stood on Warren St. for more than three decades, is closing in June — displaced by an upcoming luxury high-rise.
Now a former manager of the bar, Derek Michalak, and two longtime patrons want to open a spinoff called The Lodge less than two blocks away, at 20 Warren St. — but it might be last call for their ambitions, after they were shut down by Community Board 1’s Tribeca Committee last week, at a meeting that saw an outpouring of opposition from local residents.
Richard Yellen, a lawyer and one of the partners in the venture, tried to sway the crowd of locals by highlighting that the new bar would employ most of the Racoon Lodge’s bartenders, and that it would aspire to live up the old dive’s reputation as a good neighbor and a “cultural institution” in the neighborhood.
“There’s few places like this left in Tribeca,” Yellen said. “It’s an institution and it should be continued.”
But the residents would have none of it — pointing out that unlike the Raccoon Lodge’s longtime location, their block between Church St. and Broadway was a quiet side street with less foot traffic, but lots of families and small children — and arguing that putting a lounge there would be as bad for the bar as it would be for the neighbors.
“We’re doing you a favor — location is key and this one is a dud,” said Seth Haber, who lives next door and brought his seven-year-old son to the meeting.
“We cannot live like that, it’s just unacceptable. This is a family-oriented block,” said another resident.
The committee members largely agreed, convinced by the impressive opposition turnout.
“That bar should not be on this street,” said CB1 member Bob Townley. “We should ask them to move to an avenue.”
Even though Yellen disputed claims that the block — “steps from Broadway” — was a quiet side street, the committee voted in the end to reject their liquor license application. The permit will now be considered by the State Liquor Authority, which takes into account — though is not bound by — community board recommendations.
But the debate, and its outcome, also raised some questions about the board’s stance towards applications from bars in general — especially since outright rejections have increased lately, most recently with an application for a Buddha Bar franchise on Thomas St.
“There’s so many shuttered storefronts in Tribeca,” committee chairwoman Liz Lewinsohn noted towards the end of the meeting. “We don’t want to be in the business of saying no. We want to help businesses.”