Romance at Amy’s without booze

The Brooklyn Paper
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Amorous couples will dine on sauteed chicken liver and braised chitlens on Valentine’s Day at the new Amy Ruth’s on Fulton Mall — but if they need booze to get in a romantic mood, they’ll have to go somewhere else.

That’s because the well-known Harlem soul food restaurant won’t have its liquor license when it opens its new location in the old Gage & Tollner site on Feb. 14.

But unlike ill-fated lovers, the fault in this case lies not in the romantic stars, but with themselves.

“It was a procedural mishap,” one of the owners told The Brooklyn Paper last week.

The Morning Star Restaurant Group, which owns both Amy Ruth’s locations, was supposed to attend a Community Board 2 committee to discuss the liquor license application in November. But the group’s attorney was not available, so the restaurant rescheduled, according to CB2 District Manager Rob Perris.

But the restaurateurs missed the rescheduled hearing in December because of that “procedural mishap,” said Lawrence Jordan, a managing partner in the restaurant group.

The mishap? The group showed up at CB2’s Downtown office instead of Brooklyn Hospital in Fort Greene, where the hearing was held.

As a result, the committee voted to send a letter to the State Liquor Authority opposing Amy Ruth’s application, which is standard procedure when an applicant fails to attend its hearing, Perris said.

Fortunately for Amy Ruth’s, the owners were able to reschedule again before the board sent its missive to the SLA. The hearing has been rescheduled for Feb. 6, just eight days before Amy Ruth’s opens for the first time — not enough time for the SLA to sign off on the liquor license.

Jordan was disappointed, but making the most of it: “Even without a liquor license, we will be open to the public in some shape, form or fashion on Valentine’s Day.”

Perhaps, but opening a restaurant on Valentine’s Day without a liquor license is like opening a department store without a children’s department, said veteran restaurateur Roy Rutledge.

“You attract more clientele with a liquor license than without it,” said Rutledge, whose new restaurant, Elementi, opened in Park Slope last summer.

“As a general rule, not having a liquor license is not a good thing from a business standpoint,” Rutledge said. “But if Amy Ruth’s decides to allow people to bring their own bottles, and they don’t charge huge corking fees, then not having a license is not a huge deterrent to customers.”

Amy Ruth’s official opening ceremony, complete with a ribbon-cutting, will take place in February or March, Jordan said.

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Reader Feedback

Joe from Harlem says:
It should be pointed out that the original Amy Ruth's in Harlem does not have a liquor license by choice.
Jan. 25, 2008, 11:07 am

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