Ridge panel allows drinking at Amnesia — but no dancing

Ridge panel allows drinking at Amnesia — but no dancing
Photo by Brittany Somerset

Patrons at Bay Ridge’s scandal-socked Club Amnesia can drink all they want — but they still can’t dance, Community Board 10 ruled this week.

The Board voted unanimously to support Amnesia owner Frank Sofia’s application for a new State Liquor Authority license — a decision that comes just weeks after the board voted against Amnesia’s application for a cabaret license, the permit necessary for an establishment to allow dancing.

Sofia had previously rented Amnesia out to promoters who used the space for wild all-night parties that drew complaints from neighbors. However, Sofia still submitted an application for a cabaret license to the state, which can override the CB10’s decision.

Fears that Amnesia would lapse back into a haven for dancing and debauchery were evident at last week’s committee meeting on the issue.

“We’re trying not to have it be a nightclub again,” Committee Chairman George Fontas said.

Sofia told the committee that he wants to convert the Brazilian steakhouse-turned-venue-for-hire into an Italian restaurant and bar, complete with muffled speakers for background music, a buffet, and tables where Amnesia’s dance floor used to be.

“This neighborhood doesn’t understand Brazilian. Everybody understands Italian,” said Sofia, who already owns an Italian restaurant in Bay Ridge and another in Manhattan’s theater district. Sofia added that he had gone deep into debt to keep Amnesia running, even taking out a loan against his house, and that he is simply trying to pay his bills.

The committee laid down the law with Sofia over the liquor permit, creating a list of rules that would be encoded in the new license. Some of the demands included that he shut his doors after 10 pm, lower club noise, and hire a better valet service that neighbors can go to with parking complaints.

Sofia agreed to many of the demands, but was stunned by them.

“Do you ask every restaurant these questions?” he asked.

“Yes,” Fontas replied. “And we rarely turn down a license. We’re a very pro-business committee.”

Fontas warned Sofia that if he should reject any of the stipulations laid out, the committee would reject his liquor application.

Yet the final decision is in Albany’s hands: CB10’s decision is only a recommendation, so state agencies can do what it wants.