Who does the State Liquor Authority answer to? Not the people, according to Mill Basin residents who have been complaining about the same bar and lounge for five years.
Community Board 18 recently voted against the Avenue N watering hole 9ja Villa’s application to renew its liquor license — for the second time — but after five years of complaining, neighbors and community board members are sceptical that the state will heed their complaints and revoke the business’s right to sling booze.
“We recently sent [the State Liquor Authority] the letter about 9ja Villa, but we never hear anything back from them,” said Community Board 18 district manager Dorothy Turano. “Why they ask us for recommendation when it’s not taken into account, I have no idea. There’s never any criteria.”
Ever since the Nigerian bar and lounge moved in to replace a beauty salon on the corner of E. 51st Street about five years ago, neighbors have been complaining to 311, 911, the 63rd Precinct, Councilman Lew Fidler, and of course, this paper, about the bar’s loud music and rowdy patrons.
“I’ve made numerous calls to 311 and 911 about the noise, about people yelling and screaming coming out of the bar, and nothing gets done,” said Donald Pratt, whose house on E. 51st Street is two doors down from the bar. “After the cops leave, they just continue to do the same thing.”
Beyond the noise, neighbors say, the bar’s customers are worse than cocker spaniels when it comes to peeing in public.
“Then the people who come to this place. They’ll carry on in front of your house. They pee in the trees, they pee on your house, they throw bottles around until the place looks like a dump,” said neighbor Jaime Lopez.
Councilman Lew Fidler, who says his office has been peppered by complaints about the noisy lounge, says he has been working with local law enforcement to curb the complaints, but has been upset with the state’s track record regarding the establishment.
“It is disappointing that the [State Liquor Authority] pays so little heed to a community’s recommendation, particularly when it is such a persistent complaint,” said Fidler. “We will continue to press the issue until neighbors can get some peace and quiet.”
The bar’s owner, Carol Emerenini, refutes any claims that her business is extraordinarily loud, saying the two tenants who live above the lounge don’t complain.
“The people that live exactly next to me, they don’t complain. The people upstairs don’t complain. The people across the street don’t complain,” said Emerenini. “I do a very good job keeping the noise down.”
The State Liquor Authority was unable to provide a comment by press time, but technically the authority answers to the governor, who appoints its members.
Reach reporter Colin Mixson at email@example.com or by calling (718) 260-4514.