Volume 21, Number 24 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | Oct. 24 - 30, 2008

Megu lounge is less than leisurely, neighbors say

By Julie Shapiro

Matthew Niziol has not slept in his bed for more than two weeks.

The pulsing music and throbbing bass from a bar below his Duane St. apartment have driven Niziol and his wife onto an inflatable mattress in their living room. The noise awakens their 1-year-old daughter Katy every night.

The problem started on Oct. 7 when upscale Japanese restaurant Megu at 62 Thomas St. opened a new bar and lounge called “M.” Niziol and one of his neighbors describe the bar as more of a nightclub, with a velvet rope, a line out the door and pulsing music past 2 a.m.

“It’s an absolute nightmare,” Niziol said.

After calling 311 and the police, Niziol hired several lawyers to intervene. Megu does not have a cabaret license, so Niziol said it is illegal for them to have dancing. The Department of Consumer Affairs, which issues cabaret licenses, did not return calls for comment.

Holly Moritz, who works in marketing at Megu, said the new lounge does not need a cabaret license because it has no dedicated dance floor.

“We’re not going to stop people from dancing,” she said, but she described the 12-table lounge as more of an exclusive networking venue with a D.J.

Several reviews of M say that its bar was cut in half to make room for dancing.

Officer Steve Rose, from the First Precinct, said Megu does not need a cabaret license.

“They’re not breaking any laws right now,” Rose told Downtown Express.

Young, a 137 Duane St. resident who did not want to give her last name, said she could feel her floor thumping with vibrations the night M opened beneath her apartment.

“It’s a mess,” Young said. “It really is way more than annoying…. I’m going to lose my patience soon.”

Young’s guest bedroom gets more of the noise from the lounge, while her bedroom gets noise from the crowd that gathers on the street outside and the parade of honking limos. Young said she is “hugely disappointed” with her apartment, which she bought earlier this year. Some of her neighbors are talking about adding soundproofing to their condos, but after finally getting settled in, she doesn’t want to rip everything apart.

Moritz, the Megu marketer, said she was aware of the residents’ noise complaints and said the management is installing soundproofing, which should be done next week. The lounge launched with a new sound system, and “we weren’t prepared,” Moritz said. Until the soundproofing is in, Moritz said the bass was turned off.

“We’re 100 percent trying to do everything we can with the residents,” she said.

Niziol, though, said he had called the manager’s cell phone and sent him many text messages, without receiving a response.

“Anything from them has been an empty promise,” he said.

Even if Megu does not need a cabaret license, Bill Crowley, spokesperson for the State Liquor Authority, said Megu needs permission from the S.L.A. before changing the way its bar operates. Megu applied for its liquor license as a restaurant with background music, and the S.L.A. approved the license based on that description, Crowley said.

“They have to let us know and say, ‘This is what we’re going to do,’” Crowley said. “If a place applies as a restaurant and is operating as something different, that is a problem.”

Julie@DowntownExpress.com




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