In Prime 6 fight, the bar owner has two faces

Web war over Prime 6! Online petitions reveal racism, fear-mongering, ignorance
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

The owner of a controversial new bar in Park Slope maintains that his place will be a local eatery — but he told state liquor officials that the two-story, 230-person “lounge,” will hire four “security guards,” offer “bottle service” and have an outdoor “stand-up bar.”

Prime 6 will be a live music venue that caters both to Brooklynites and, “out-of-town patrons in anticipation of the Barclays stadium” that is rising one block away, according to a booze permit application filed by owner Akiva Ofshtein last year with the State Liquor Authority.

“It will offer several rooms for private parties, including a basement lounge [and] a large outdoor secluded-dining backyard to be enjoyed during the spring,” the application continued.

The documents also note that “there will be large TV screens so that Nets games can be watched.”

Neighbors are concerned.

“It underlines the mysteriousness of the proposed bar,” said Steve Ettlinger, whose yard faces Prime 6’s outdoor patio, which will seat 46 people. “There are a number of things that don’t stack up.”

Community Board 6 now wants to reopen the debate, voting last week to ask the state for a new license hearing on the grounds that the board failed to provide locals with enough advance warning about the lone hearing.

Neighbors have been protesting Prime 6 — which faces both Flatbush and Sixth avenues — for weeks, saying it will keep them up at all hours, clog streets and lure a rowdy crowd. They now have a lawyer.

“There is no denying the large and growing groundswell of opposition,” wrote attorney Harry Lipman, who lives near Prime 6 and is working pro-bono.

Opposition or not, Ofshtein is pushing ahead. In an interview, he explained that he would indeed offer “occasional” bottle service — a nightlife trend in which big spenders order full bottles of hard liquor for a table of partiers, a practice at many venues that cater to a Manhattan-style crowd. He added that he “won’t be pushing it” on the menu.

“I would sell a bottle to a large party,” he said, comparing it to wine. “I think any restaurateur would do the same thing.”

On a wider level, opposition to Ofstein’s bar can be seen as a proxy battle in the long fight over the Atlantic Yards mega-project, which will undoubtedly alter the local nightlife scene once the Barclays Center arena is completed in late 2012. The area is already bustling at night — but there is no telling what 19,000 basketball fans will do once they become a thrice-weekly fixture.