Ridge panel allows drinking at Amnesia — but no dancing

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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.

Updated 5:31 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Bay Ridger from Bay Ridge says:
I had a few LOL's re: this article:

- "muffled speakers for background music" Yeah that's gonna happen...

- "this neighborhood doesn't understand Brazilian" Not at $60 a pop, no. The neighborhood understands ANY KIND of good food and value.

- "Sofia agreed to many of the demands, but was stunned by them" Yes, quiet after 10 PM, no double, triple parking in the streets; outrageous!!

This guy sounds like trouble.
March 22, 2012, 9:46 am
Josef from clinton hill says:
Bay Ridger - I never went to this joint while it was Brazilian, but a Churrascaia Rodizio for $60 per head sounds right if the restaurant offers quality, because that style of meal is supposed to be all you can eat of excellent grilled meats of numerous varieties, plus an extensive seafood/salad/starch bar.

The state's arrogated ability to prevent establishments from allowing dancing is complete baloney. This needs to be overturned by the courts yesterday.

As for the CB's demands, it's obvious they suck:
1. A 10pm closing time is for the suburbs and this is NYC.
2. Patrons' mode of transportation is not the fault of a given establishment's owners.
3. "Lower noise" is total hooey in the city that never sleeps, people who want quiet need to move elsewhere.
March 22, 2012, 10:28 am
Bay Ridger from Bay Ridge says:
Another LOL from Josef. I see that you won't be bothered by the noise & traffic by this place since you live in Clinton Hill.

Let me tell you definitively that Bay Ridge DOES sleep, and we enjoy doing it.
March 22, 2012, 11:57 am
common sense from bay ridge says:
If Sofia really wants to put tables where the dance floor is, and turn it into a fine Italian restaurant, then why is he trying so hard to get a cabaret license?

Expect more all night debauchery if the state approves the licenses.
March 22, 2012, 1:51 pm

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