Volume 22, Number 12 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | August 7 - 13, 2009
Tribecans say the jig is up at Sazon
By Julie Shapiro
A new bar in Tribeca is breaking the law by blasting live music and having a dance floor, neighbors charge.
Sazon, a Puerto Rican restaurant on Reade St. that turns into more of a lounge after hours, has drawn a slew of complaints from local residents since it opened in May in the space formerly occupied by Fresh.
Residents of the Tribeca side street say Sazon’s patrons make too much noise when they spill into the street late at night, preventing people from sleeping. But the biggest problem, they say, is that Sazon is not abiding by its liquor license, which expressly prohibits live music. Sazon also does not have a cabaret license, which means the bar cannot have dancing.
“There have been no indications that Sazon attempted to abide by its liquor license,” said Kelly Adams, who lives across from Sazon on Reade St.
Shortly after 10 p.m. last Saturday, a five-piece salsa band played in Sazon’s lower-level lounge, the trumpet player blaring solos. Several couples danced in a small space cleared between tables and the bar.
Owner Genaro Morales told the Web site Always Hungry New York in June that Sazon has been “getting crowded already, like a big dance party.”
Mike Smith, spokesperson for the State Liquor Authority, said Sazon promised in its application to have only background music on CDs. The application also described Sazon as a straightforward restaurant, not a restaurant that shifts to more of a nightclub or bar atmosphere after hours.
“If they’re not conforming, we can take action,” Smith said.
Sazon also is not allowed to have any patron dancing, said Elizabeth Miller, spokesperson for the city Dept. of Consumer Affairs, which issues cabaret licenses. Miller said she had not received any complaints or tips about Sazon yet, but the department would look into the case.
Martin Mehler, a lawyer representing Sazon, initially told Downtown Express that Sazon had no live music or dancing. When told that a reporter had visited the bar and observed both activities, Mehler said he would have to consult with his client. He did not return a subsequent call for comment.
At a Community Board 1 meeting last week, Francis Buscemi, another of Sazon’s lawyers, said the owner had ordered signs telling patrons to respect neighbors and keep the noise level down. Buscemi also promised the doorman would “take a more active role” in keeping patrons quiet outside, and he said Sazon would close its windows after 7 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
Sazon has been operating under a series of temporary liquor licenses while the S.L.A. makes a decision about transferring Fresh’s old license to Sazon. Since there are more than three other bars near Sazon, the S.L.A. held a 500-foot hearing last month on the proposed license transfer, and several residents attended to express their concerns.
One of the residents’ top complaints is that the block of Reade St. between Church St. and W. Broadway has grown saturated with late-night establishments.
Mary Ann’s, a Mexican restaurant on the corner of Reade and W. Broadway, has an outdoor cafe that can get noisy, residents say. Then there is Sazon, where patrons often hang out outside smoking or talking on cell phones, residents say, though it looked like bouncers were keeping the street quiet early last Saturday night. Finally, another bar, Ward 3, recently opened beside Sazon on Reade St., and while residents haven’t cited specific problems with it, they still say the street has too many bars.
“That was your typical quiet side street in Tribeca,” said Bruce Ehrmann, a Tribeca resident and member of C.B. 1. “Now it’s an all-night affair.”
The board did not oppose a license for Sazon earlier this year, since they did not realize there would be problems for residents. C.B. 1 is arranging a meeting between residents and the bar’s representatives, which could take place as soon as next week.
Anne Kelly, who has lived on Reade St. for nearly 25 years, said she’s never seen anything like Sazon, which frequently blasts “Sweet Caroline” and has people literally dancing in the streets.
“It’s very disrespectful,” Kelly said. Even from the middle of her third-floor apartment, she said, “you can hear the screaming.”