A boyfriend-and-girlfriend restaurant team is fighting a community board that wants to stop it from opening a French eatery and cocktail bar in Carroll Gardens — a stunning echo to a battle four years ago when neighbors fought the couple’s quiet wine bar.
Community Board 6 last week rejected a liquor license bid for the proposed Sackett and Henry Street restaurant, The Hallows, which hopes to serve “country French” food and signature cocktails on a residential block.
“There’s no other commercial activity there,” said Glenn Kelly of Community Board 6. “I wish them well — somewhere else.”
But the young entrepreneurs — who live in Carroll Gardens and two years ago bought the Black Mountain Wine House, a quiet eatery on Union Street in Carroll Gardens — are fighting back to open what they say will quickly become a neighborhood favorite.
“We live here, too, we know this neighborhood — and you can’t just push us aside,” said co-owner Regina Myers, explaining her rye-picon-and-dry-vermouth concoctions are hardly meant for the spring break crowd. “We don’t want people taking shots of Jack Daniel’s — we want them to have a lovely, pretty drink with dinner.”
Some neighborhood groups have pushed to keep the area quiet and residential — even as Smith Street morphed into bustling restaurant row. In 2008, Hoyt Street neighbors fought what they called “bar saturation” — and to keep Smith Street from “spreading” east.
Assemblywoman Joan Millman (D–Carroll Gardens) supported that push, drafting a bill last year would shutter backyard patios at bars and restaurants before midnight.
The site in question — a former bakery at 204 Sackett St. — has no such outdoor space and would close by midnight. It is sandwiched between two buildings that look residential, but are actually zoned for commercial use, meaning the business could open without any approval from a community board — though such boards do get a say over liquor licenses.
Right now, there are few full-liquor bars in a three block radius of the site — although Bar Bruno sells booze half a block away on Henry Street. It opened last spring with little controversy.
Even so, Community Board 6 — which voted 4 to 2 with 10 abstentions to reject the eatery’s liquor license application — said a full bar would be out of place on a block that is so serene.
“It’s a slippery slope,” Lou Sones of Community Board 6, who owns The Brazen Head on Atlantic Avenue. “Once you receive a liquor license, there’s nothing keeping you from becoming a bar.”
But if Myers’s menu is any indication, that’s not the plan: It includes stuffed quail, cream of pumpkin and chestnut soup, foie gras and bone marrow with blood orange marmalade — a hint at the type of patrons she hopes to attract. That’s why she’ll resubmit the liquor license application, claiming the community board “misrepresented and misunderstood” her business model.
“If you don’t take care of small businesses like us — you’ll be left with places like Subway and TGIF,” she said.
Myers said the battle isn’t over. She and her boyfriend-slash-business-partner Tyler Maganzini will now circulate a petition to prove neighbors really do support them — and the restaurant’s concept.
“It’s upsetting and disheartening,” she said. “But this isn’t over.”Reach reporter Natalie O'Neill at noneill@cn
©2011 Community News Group
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