Club owner: Zebulon closed because new W’burgers aren’t like old W’burgers

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One of Williamsburg’s most-acclaimed music venues closed for good last week because “squares” have moved into the neighborhood, according to the club’s owner.

Joce Soubiran, one of the owners of Zebulon, said he shut down the popular Wythe Avenue club because new residents complained too much about the performance space.

“The people around us don’t want us,” said Soubiran. “Why would you move next to a music place if you don’t want music? The people around here want to tell us how to run our business.”

On one of the last evenings at Zebulon, speakers buzzed with the soft rhythm of Ethiopian jazz and an old foreign film lit up a back wall while patrons nursed their drinks and lamented the closure of the neighborhood joint.

“You could come in here and see NewVillager play a day before they played at the Bowery Ballroom,” said Alan Astor, who lives around the corner from the club. “Nothing else around here has the vibe of Zebulon. Now, you go to the diner across the street and they ask you if you have reservatio­ns.”

Soubiran opened the venue nine years ago with his brother, Jef, and their friend, Guillaume Blestel. Since then, they have brought weird, worldly, and experimental music and film to Williamsburg and served it up alongside cheap drinks.

Acts including Megafortress, Pulverize the Sound, and Janka Nabay have played intimate sets at the club.

But as the venue earned praise from music heads, it got bombarded with noise complaints, particularly in the past two years, said Soubiran.

On Halloween, authorities slapped Zebulon’s owners with a total of seven tickets for noise violations and allowing revelers to gather on the street.

Soubiran said it’s not worth the hassle to better soundproof the club or ask bands to keep it down because that would compromise the club’s authenticity.

He said he and the other owners might consider opening up in a different neighborhood — maybe Bushwick — at a later time.

“We are very tired and we need a break,” he said.

When asked what he will do when the squares move to Bushwick, Soubiran said he hopes to be retired.

“By then, I will be old enough to go to Brazil and play guitar on the beach.”

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Reader Feedback

Transplant from Here to Stay says:
Look, Swampy, even the hipsters are getting pushed out of Williamsburg. Maybe you and your ilk can team up with them to create an unholy alliance against the yuppies.

It would be like that scene from Independence Day where the Israeli and Saudi pilots team up against the alien threat.

As Will Smith says "Welcome to Earf!"
Dec. 10, 2012, 10:24 am
SwampYankee from ruined Brooklyn says:
Good analogy with Independence Day. Particularly the part where they compare the aliens to locust that come to a planet, use up every thing, make it a sterile place, and move on to the next "cool nabe". Look out Bushwick!
Dec. 10, 2012, 11 am
Ian from 11211 says:
Another reason why Williamsburg is over.

East Williamsburg is now.
Dec. 10, 2012, 11:11 am
Dan from South Brooklyn says:
Ian... there is no "East Williamsburg" and nobody cares about some dumb petition to secede. You are part of the problem. It's funny how everybody on the other side of BK continues to live their lives every day without inventing new neighborhood names or narratives that indicate what's next.
Dec. 10, 2012, 12:01 pm
hooked on sonics says:
Better soundproofing "would compromise the club’s authenticity?" Huh? When Soubiran states, "We are very tired and we need a break," what I hear is, 'we're too lame to do what needs to be done, but we're going to blame it on the neighbors.'
Dec. 10, 2012, 12:16 pm
Bori from Clinton Hills says:
Suburban transplant. Stay there if you want a quiet location. NYC is dead thks to the transplants!1l
Dec. 10, 2012, 7:04 pm
Pat I. from 70's Brooklyn says:
I lived for a year in a similar neighborhood (in NJ). Although I was 22 at the time the noise coming from the bars and clubs below didn't really bother me. I'd stay up late and my job at the time was not very demanding.

But when I was promoted 8 months later, working 70 hours a week, the coolness of living where I did quickly began to lose its appeal.
Dec. 11, 2012, 7:12 am
"Interloper" from Kent Ave says:
Chauncey - Your comments are disgusting. However, if you stand by them I invite you to venture into the neighborhood south of Borinquen someday and tell the residents there how you feel about them to their face instead of cowardly attacking them behind the safety of an anonymous message board post. I'm sure they'll be more than understanding...

One could refer to me as a "suburban transplant" but I am very sorry to see Zebulon go.
Dec. 11, 2012, 12:59 pm
Mister from De Pinga says:
I got here first! No, I got here first! Me me me! What a load of crap. Zebulon ruined the neighborhood first. Had neighborhood people getting arrested and harassed by police along with their previous cohorts in the diner (of previous rendition). So don't complain that you got kicked out, when you are the reason 10,000 got kicked out because of you. You will fade away as a distant memory and who really cares except you and your self-absorbed friends. Good riddance.
Dec. 11, 2012, 4:49 pm
monty from willb says:
been here for 35 yrs. own 3 bars from the LES to Willb to yeah Bushdik. i saw every spot come and go. Zebulon was one of the greats that made this hood what it is.
hipsters, suburan hipster wannababies, and bridge and tunnel rats and half the a holes on here do nothing for culture other than leach off of it and consume communities. you are all fillers and need to go back to ur moms house. brooklyn is better off without you.

yeah yeah dis this post all u want. but the truth is you all wack and dont have a clue on what it takes to run a club in nyc let alone cultivate a music scene. please all of you go back to the disneyland u came from. back in the day none of u would be able to step foot on the LES or willb. you would of got ur ass handed to you
Dec. 11, 2012, 5:32 pm
"Interloper" from Kent Ave says:
Monty - What bars do you own specifically? All of us "hipsters, suburan hipster wannababies (LEARN HOW TO SPELL MUCH?), and bridge and tunnel rats" will be sure to stay away from them from now on and no longer give you any business. People like you are happy to receive our money when we patronize your bars and you're also happy to see your property values go up (if you actually have the financial foresight to actually have bought, which you probably do not based on your blatant stupidity shown in this post) Fossils like you then turn around and complain and whine about how the "good old days" of Brooklyn and the LES are gone. Lets see how you feel once your pockets get light.
Dec. 11, 2012, 6:15 pm
ex wburg from harlem says:
i loved zebulon and wburg so much! lived in wburg since 92 and am so happy to be just a visitor from harlem now and then. this way i can enjoy instead of dreading the change. now we are doing it all over again up here in harlem...
and to interloper: everyone survived without you guys in a very cool way
Dec. 11, 2012, 10:05 pm
Abulafia from First Blood Part 2 says:
Hipsterminator wrote nothing about 'not liking white people' as Chauncey claims in his/her telling outburst. Hipsterminator wrote specifically about the parties he/she disliked so its fascinating Chauncey exploited and twisted it to make it seem Hipsterminator was being racially aggressive when it's actually Chauncey who introduced the issue and is therefore aggressive about race. More so fascinating no one picked up on Chauncey's manipulation or the completely unsubstantiated and unqualified nature of his/her argument. Chauncey injects racial invective to cloud the fact his/her arguments are flights of fancy and lack history or reason. My advice to Chauncey: yes, please drop "us" from your support. Your kind of support smacks of the Mitt Romney kind--bitter, blind and losing.
Dec. 12, 2012, 10:48 am
Teresa from Greenpoint says:
Before that space was Zebulon, it was The Green Room, a performance art space and sometime-cafe. Residential neighbors and Green Room patrons coexisted peacefully and positively. Don't blame gentrifiers and transplants. Don't blame locals. Blame a**holes, who know no ethnic, etiquette or socioeconomic boundaries.
Dec. 12, 2012, 1:03 pm
Suspiria from Williamsburg says:
Zebulon was an excellent bar, but the key line in the story is “it’s not worth the hassle to better soundproof the club”.

So Zebulon, beloved bohemian bolthole, thought that respecting their neighbours was ‘hassle’.

Keeping the venue alive for their employees, customers, and precious musicians, was ‘hassle’.

Sometimes life involves hassle, and adding the legally required amount of soundproofing to a bar is hardly the most difficult, or expensive, task in the world. Especially if the bar is for sale at 4m USD.

Bushwick is welcome to them, until that becomes 'hassle' as well. God help the world if everyone gives up and moves on as soon as they have to get off their hipster asses and do something.
Dec. 12, 2012, 3:14 pm
Carla from Bushwick says:
#gentrification. dang are the comments in this thread trippy.
Dec. 12, 2012, 5:08 pm
maximgorky from Greenpoint says:
Wasn't gentrification that brought Zebulon to Greenpoint in the first place?
Dec. 12, 2012, 5:31 pm
Benny from 11211 says:
Dec. 12, 2012, 6:13 pm
ken from crown heights says:
Please, as a native New Yorker, not a transplanted mid westerner who thinks they know what cool is, Williamburg has always sucked to natives. As far as real New Yorkers are concerned, there's nothing hip about hipsters, we find them to be white segregationist who think their liberal. Don't believe, me, ask someone from the local Latino population (if any still exist) what they think of hipsters. Hipsters can go the way of the rubik's cube for all I care. They're the creatures that destroyed the multicultural, multiracial essence of New York, oh yeah they're liberal (in name only) too.
Dec. 13, 2012, 6:07 pm
jax from willy says:
who gives a rats ass about the blood sucking latino population ???
i mean really ??
you white ass mother ??
Please ...
Dec. 15, 2012, 2:21 am
you all suck from afghanistan says:
You're all one in the same: Hipsters, working poor, yuppies, sub tropic climate natives, whatever labels you can scrounge up and you all suck! Thats why you all live together and on top of each other in your little ——e hole together pissing and moaning about who does and doesn't belong. It never gets old with you people.....its like Gaza. To hell with ALL of you.
Dec. 17, 2012, 12:09 pm
frank from thetank says:
@maximgorky. hey ding dong. Zeb wasn't in Greenpoint.
Dec. 17, 2012, 3:34 pm
Drum from D Train says:
I thought this was an Onion article at first. ——ing high-larious. Good luck in Bushwick! The yuppies that couldn't afford ——ty Billburg are already there blowing their paychecks on $2700 2BRs just to get a taste of life in a gritty Brooklyn ghetto. You'd be better served opening up a bodega since their leftover money from rent goes to 40s and ramen. Maybe you should think a couple moves ahead and set up shop in Staten Island.
Dec. 18, 2012, 3:49 pm
Jones from greenpoint says:
When you say "squares" do you mean people with jobs? Or maybe the "squares" are your old patrons that grew up & no longer find it charming stepping over beer bottles & piles of puke while taking their kids to school in the morning. Did you ever think that possibly the music just sucks. PS-If you are paying more than $900 a month for rent you are being ripped off. The old timers spotted you & your deep-pocketed parents & are laughing all the way to the bank.
Dec. 22, 2012, 11:25 pm
Overit from Wburg says:
$4 Mil???? Uh, good luck with that. Unless the dirty, sticky floors are covering up gold tiles, they are going to be very disappointed with the settling price. Or if they can hold out, maybe J Crew or Chase buy them out, then we'd all rejoice. (vomit)
Dec. 23, 2012, 1:15 pm
Always here from Williamsburg (born and raised) says:
I grew up in the Williamsburg area. It has changed. My grandmother came to Williamsburg with my grandpa when she was 9. It has changed. What happens with this change is that we have to learn to accept it. Yes, my family is hispanic. It is not that we dont like the change but we just wish that our area was a little bit smarter back then. My family was. They bought a lot of the apartments in the area and are keeping their property.
Dec. 28, 2012, 1:18 pm
jmz from ny says:
Please go to Brazil, Soubiran. Don't re-open anywhere. Bad business practices.
May 7, 2013, 3:11 am
Michael from Brooklyn says:
Lot of words from a lot of different souls... So who was there first? Time was it was all farms. In fact my great grandfather sixteen times back bought all of that land while Peter Minuit was buying Manhattan. Adrien Willems Bennett bought the land in 1628 from a corn growing indian named Gowana. Yes, same name as the canal. In 1644 those same indians killed him. He was a 19 year old cooper making barrels when he bought the land. At 35 years of age he was murdered. So, what's real? I was a woodworker at 338 Berry street in the late '80's and we took our lives in our hands somedays just to get home. I got chased by rabid dogs which I fended off with a cane I carried. They lived in rubble strewn lots after drug dealers girlfriends set them loose once their boyfriends got sentenced. That was then, so, yeah, I'm sure it's nice to walk down the street these days compared to the way it was, the way it will be again someday. You know, some of the most ruthless gangsters from the days of prohibition came from this neighborhood. It has seen good and bad times many times. This too shall pass. No point in fighting over it as that's been done many times long before any of our own grandparents were even born! Life is way too short so, let it go.... Peace.
Feb. 7, 2014, 6:33 pm

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