Buster’s brings more supporters, but still loses at C.B. 1
By ERNEST SCHEYDER
Buster’s Garage supporters came out in droves Tuesday night, but Community Board 1 unanimously voted against the popular sports bar transferring its liquor license to its Leonard St. location.
The board instead listened to a large number of residents who said that the bar-restaurant will cause more problems on a side street than at its original location at 180 W. Broadway. The bar closed in August to make way for a residential condo project.
Nearly 50 people ranging from law students to cooks to parents and business owners waited in line for 45 minutes to speak and they were evenly split, unlike a recent jam-packed meeting of the Tribeca Committee in which most of the speakers were against the Buster’s transfer. The case will now be decided by the State Liquor Authority.
“I think the greatest thing this place gives is a sense of community,” said Joe Frankfort during the board’s monthly meeting Tuesday night at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Battery Park City.
“A bar has its place, but not on a residential street,” said Judy Swartz, a resident of 18 Leonard St. “A bar next to a garage is not a place my children should have to walk by on their way home from school during happy hour.”
The board’s advisory resolution cited several reasons why the license transfer should not be approved, chief among them Leonard St.’s small size. In addition, residents decried a proposed smoking deck in the rear of the sports bar because it sits below bedroom windows and they say it would present a significant health hazard.
Arthur Lucant, a student at New York Law School, said Buster’s Garage has become an addition to the campus and is a great place to find inexpensive food.
“It really creates an aura of community,” he said. “At a time when the community wants that, it’s a great way to build it.”
Kristopher Brown, president of the Juilliard Building condo board, which is adjacent to the new Buster’s Garage, made his position firmly known.
“I have not been convinced that they can do what is needed to accommodate patrons on this street,” he said. “There’s simply not enough room.”
“We welcome you in another part of the neighborhood, but not on Leonard St.,” Pam Torres said.
David Ironman, a lawyer for Buster’s sought to clarify the establishment’s target audience. “It is not a cabaret,” he said. “It is a bar and grill.” Buster’s, which did not have a liquor violation in its three years, plans to close at midnight weekdays and 2 a.m. weekends if it gets the license. About 40 percent of its profit will come from food sales, and there will be no bands or live music, he said.
At times the speeches turned into debates when members of the audience yelled out their opposition to viewpoints or the high number of residents being allowed to speak. Julie Menin, chairperson of the board, said that she would allow everyone to talk and share their opinions.
Another New York Law School student, George Esposito, also spoke in favor of the establishment. “Buster’s became our campus,” he said. “It’s an asset to Tribeca, an asset to New York City.”
Following the contentious debate, Rick Landman, chairperson of the board’s Tribeca Committee, asked residents to remember that they all compose a neighborhood and must act in harmony.
“We all have to live together,” he said.