G’point restaurant hit with summons as War on Brunch escalates

War on brunch: W’burg group fights to stop Sunday morning sidewalk dining
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

A Greenpoint restaurant became the first casualty in the War on Brunch when city inspectors slapped it with a court summons for serving outdoor diners on Sunday morning.

Department of Consumer Affairs regulators issued a citation to the Lorimer Street bistro Lokal at 9:35 am for violating a little-known rule that bars eateries from operating sidewalk cafes before noon on Sundays.

The violation comes after members of North Brooklyn’s Community Board 1 mounted an aggressive front against brunch-serving scofflaws and urged the city to take action against law-breakers.

But the owners of the Nassau Avenue cafe, who will defend themselves and their brunch menu before a judge on June 11, say they are being unfairly targeted.

“In New York everybody is operating their sidewalk cafes before noon,” said Lokal co-owner Serkan Uzel. “We’re the only ones so far that got the ticket. We’re going to go to court first and we’re going to try to solve the problem.”

A Department of Consumer Affairs spokeswoman confirmed that Lokal was the only restaurant in Greenpoint and Williamsburg that received a violation this weekend, but noted that Sunday’s rainy weather may have deterred other businesses from serving outdoor brunch.

The summons is a victory for CB1’s public safety general Tom Burrows, who vowed to shush noisy restaurants and move diners indoors by campaigning against restaurants that serve mimosas, bellinis, and french toast to sidewalk crowds on what some consider a day of rest.

The board, under Burrows’s leadership, has pushed back against several popular eateries including Five Leaves and Pies ‘n’ Thighs for installing illegal wooden benches in front of their establishments that encourage customers to mingle outdoors while waiting for tables.

Burrows and other board members say the summons issued to Lokal proves the city is rightfully defending a policy that’s on the books.

“If it’s a city law, then people should be following it,” said Monsignor Joseph Calise, pastor at Our Lady of Mount Carmel and a CB1 member.

Some of North Brooklyn’s Sunday morning diners have been taken aback by the city’s show of force, retreating to their apartments until the afternoon.

“That’s a bummer,” said Williamsburg resident and avid bruncher Jordan James. “I do think it’s sad that it’s not happening anymore.”

Elected officials who represent the front lines in the conflict are remaining neutral.

“The law is the law — but I’m open to having a dialogue as to how the law is written,” said Councilman Steve Levin (D–Williamsburg).

Reach reporter Aaron Short at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-2547.