Volume 16 • Issue 17 | September 23 - 29, 2003

Keep the vodka off the pizza, Tribecans say

By Elizabeth O’Brien

Some Tribeca residents are worried about a planned pizzeria at 360 Broadway where patrons will be able to order a scotch with their slice.

The owners of Firehouse 360, a restaurant under construction at 360 Broadway, plan to apply to the State Liquor Authority for a full liquor license, which would allow them to serve hard liquor along with wine and beer.

Neighbors worry that this will mean noisy patrons coming out of the bar and disturbing their sleep at the closing times of 11 p.m. on weeknights and 2 a.m. on weekends. In addition to what some call the odd mix of pizza and liquor, residents said they noticed a discrepancy between the shop’s actual size and the size that the owners reported to Community Board 1.

“The whole thing didn’t add up,” said Elise Ward, a resident of 388 Broadway and a C.B. 1 member who sits on the Tribeca committee.

Firehouse 360 owners Robert Kramer and Peter Eng came before the Tribeca committee on Sept. 4. They told the community board that their basement space was 1,300 sq. ft., with a capacity of 54 patrons. The space is actually closer to 4,000 sq. ft., said Ward, who works in real estate and has seen blueprints of the owners’ plan.

In a telephone interview, Kramer said that the space was roughly 2,000 sq. ft. Since the restaurant is still under construction, it remains unclear exactly how much serving space he will have.

“If I come out with 1,500 sq. ft., I’ll be very lucky,” Kramer said.

Kramer said he expects to open his restaurant sometime in October, before his liquor license application is evaluated. He said he hopes to draw workers from the nearby courthouses, and that he would like to start serving liquor in time for holiday parties in December.

Kramer said he plans to keep a watchful eye on his patrons. He also owns the Pussycat Lounge at 96 Greenwich St., a strip club that also features live music. Kramer said his family has operated the lounge for 30 years without trouble.

“I run a very strict shop,” Kramer said.

Kramer said that Firehouse 360 would not have any adult entertainment. He wants a full liquor license for the restaurant because, he said, “The bar is the place where one makes money.”

At last week’s full Broadway board meeting of C.B. 1, members expressed concern over the apparent discrepancy in the reported size of Firehouse 360 and the number of entrances. After looking at the blueprints, members thought the bar would have an entrance on Franklin St. and would include the adjacent space on Broadway. C.B. 1 passed a resolution calling for a 500-foot hearing to be held on the restaurant proposal.

If there are three existing liquor-licensed premises within 500 feet of an applicant and the State Liquor Authority is made aware of it, the agency must hold a public hearing on the matter, said J. Mark Anderson, a spokesperson for the S.L.A. Around the proposed location of Firehouse 360 are Peppers at 349 Broadway and Lafayette Grill & Bar at 54 Franklin St. If there are not three liquor-licensed premises within 500 feet of an applicant but the local community board requests a hearing nonetheless, then the authority would consider holding one, Anderson said.

In their applications, liquor license hopefuls must define their proposed method of operation, Anderson said. The liquor authority closely examines business plans and might ask to see a menu, he said. In addition, applicants are required to show diagrams of the premises, Anderson added.

Kramer said he would retain 360 Broadway as his address, but he hoped to have the main entrance on Franklin St., where patrons can enter the basement-level pizza parlor at a slight slope from the street.

This worries Karen Stamm, a resident of 366 Broadway whose windows face Franklin St.

“Because of the narrowness of the streets and the height of the buildings, any noise ricochets off the buildings in a canyon effect,” said Stamm, the vice president of FATE, the Family Association of Tribeca East.

Arthur Gregory, a C.B. 1 member who owns the A & M Roadhouse restaurant and live music venue at 57 Murray St., said that he doubted that Firehouse 360 would ever draw a crowd in the early morning hours. He said the only business he typically gets after 10 p.m. comes from nearby restaurant workers who patronize his place at the end of their shifts.

Of residents’ objections to Firehouse 360, Gregory said, “Their concerns are valid, but I don’t think it’ll ever come up.”



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