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Bar fight is brewing on Hoyt Street

A group of Hoyt Street residents is protesting a plan to open a bar between Union and Sackett streets.
The Brooklyn Paper / Jeff Bachner

Plans for a bar and grill on Hoyt Street have shattered the calm on the mainly residential street with neighbors saying the would-be bar owner is trying to create a new Smith Street in the midst of their quiet corner of Carroll Gardens.

Residents say they fear the opening of a proposed raw bar serving hard alcohol right next door to a six-month-old wine bar near the corner of Union Street. Taken together, residents foresee the makings of an unwanted, mini-entertainment district — and now they’re trying to stop restaurateur Jim Mamary from getting his liquor license.

“When the Black Mountain Wine House [wine bar] opened, we said Smith Street is creeping up here,” said Mary Hedge, a Hoyt Street resident. Hedge (far left in picture) and some of her neighbors say the bar has increased traffic and noise near their homes since it opened last summer.

The success of the Led Zeppelin–inspired bar is portentous to Hedge. She thinks a new Mamary-owned bar and grill would mean annoyances wafting from outdoor smokers and cellphone conversations.

“We just don’t want to become a nighttime playground,” said Hedge, noting the establishment would be open until 2 am on the weekends.

Rowdy joints are one thing, but the owner says his latest business will be subdued.

“We’ve been mischaracterized,” said Mamary. “It’s more of a food venue than a drink venue.

Mamary owns several other eateries and watering holes in Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens, including Patois — the restaurant that many say ushered in the Smith Street boom. But he said no boom is forthcoming on Hoyt Street.

“The size of the [new] place is an inherent constraint on it getting out of hand,” he said, citing the 35-person capacity.

Some residents say they support Mamary because activity on the block will make them feel safer when walking home at night.

But people in the immediate vicinity of the bar say the street is safe already, and have rallied to stop the Smithification of Hoyt Street. The opponents have asked Community Board 6 to vote against the liquor license application — an advisory vote that comes before the State Liquor Authority makes the actual decision.

Real-estate experts say that fears of the second coming of Smith Street on Hoyt Street are unfounded, mostly because Hoyt Street has relatively few storefronts.

“Hoyt Street is more residential than either Smith or Court streets, so there is less opportunity for commercial expansion,” said Jim Cornell, senior vice president at Corcoran.

Instead of looking at the transformation of Smith Street, people on Hoyt Street should study the evolution of a street farther west, with a comparable number of stores.

“Henry Street is a good parallel to what Hoyt Street could be,” said Cornell.

“The southern end is where the commercial peacefully coexists with the residential.”

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