Dozens of enraged Park Slopers stormed a community board meeting on Monday night to object to a liquor license for a controversial bar at the corner of Flatbush and Sixth avenues — but the protesters quickly learned that they were too late: the liquor license had been granted earlier this month because no one raised an objection.
Akiva Ofshtein was granted his license by the State Liquor Authority on Feb. 16 for his location inside the former Royal Video store about a block and a half from the under-construction Barclays Center basketball arena.
He had notified Community Board 6 back in November of his intention to seek the license. The board had 30 days to object, but it did not.
As a result, Ofshtein’s attorney George Karp filed for the license application on Jan. 18, and the liquor agency granted the license — actually three, for bar service in the main restaurant, a basement lounge, and a backyard area — on Feb. 16 following a hearing in Manhattan, at which no objections were raised.
“If they don’t show up to the hearing, I assumed no one is concerned,” said Karp.
That was a bad assumption, if Monday night’s meeting is any indication. After the obligatory complaints that they had not been informed about Ofshtein’s bid for a license, locals went on the attack against the Canarsie native’s bar itself.
“This is Park Slope, not the Lower East Side!” said Paul Zumoff, an area broker who echoed the sentiment of dozens of residents.
The business will occupy a prime spot in what is already a nightlife hub, one that will undoubtedly get busier with the arrival of the Brooklyn Nets. The battle against the bar can be seen, in part, as a proxy battle for the lost war over Atlantic Yards.
“The use that you proposed is not acceptable to this community,” warned Sue Jacobs, a St. Marks Avenue resident.
That said, it’s unclear what “use” Ofshtein is actually considering. In an interview, he told us that he has yet to decide what type of restaurant his place will be, deciding between a “California kitchen” and a steakhouse, possibly named Prime 6.
But either way, he insisted, his restaurant is for locals.
“I am gearing up for a Park Slope clientele,” he said, promising a May opening.
The bar will serve food until 4 am, feature two large televisions, a private party area, “acoustic music,” and an outdoor garden area — which residents said must be removed from his plans.
“My goal is not to turn people away or make them angry,” said Ofshtein, a lawyer by trade who said he worked as a waiter for years and managed the now-shuttered Tavern on the Green from 1997 to 1998.
“Our ultimate goal is to have a high-end style Manhattan restaurant in Brooklyn,” he claimed.
But that image was betrayed by Ofshtein’s Prime 6 Myspace page, which featured suggestively posed women, and Facebook page which included a link to the “Prime 6 mixed CD,” created by hip hop artist DJ Big Jeff, who has songs titled, “Motha F–ka, I’m Ill” and “New Money.”
Ofshtein disavowed any involvement with the pages, saying they were done by an independent business to drum up interest in his venture.
But the explanations struck a disingenuous chord with residents, who said Karp’s client was a fish out of water.
“There was an arrogance coming in here and announcing a fait accompli in the first two minutes — that they were doing us a favor just being here,” said Paul Beresford-Hill, a Sixth Avenue resident.
Residents said that throughput the building’s renovation, Ofshtein has not responded to complaints about trash on the sidewalk and dangerous conditions near the site.
“He made it very clear that he is not interested in being a good neighbor,” said Jen Abrams, a Park Place resident. “So what sort of business owner is he going be?” And community board members — who ultimately tabled the matter so Ofshtein could meet with residents over the next month — were equally appalled.
“When you come in here and tell us that this is a community restaurant, you are really and truly insulting our integrity and our intelligence,” said committee member Pauline Blake, a St. Marks Avenue resident.
Community Board 6 will reconsider the matter in a month, but it is unclear what the panel can achieve.
Ofshtein still needs the Department of Buildings to sign off on the plans, which request a total occupancy of 230 people.