Booze at Smorgasburg? Not yet, says W’burg civic group

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The Williamsburg food festival Smorgasburg wants to add alcohol to the menu — but neighborhood leaders put that plan on ice.

Community Board 1’s public safety committee denied a request by Brooklyn Flea co-founder Eric Demby to get a seasonal liquor license so he can serve locally brewed beer, wine and liquor at his popular outdoor market on N. Sixth Street — even though Demby insisted his event would be quiet and family-friendly.

“We have a lot of families who come to our businesses so this won’t be a rowdy scene,” said Demby. “This is really about showcasing local producers.”

But the board — which has previously tried to heighten outdoor drinking regulations — voted 3–2 against the Smorgasburg plan, worrying that neighbors living along Kent Avenue — who are already outraged about intoxicated post-concert crowds — won’t welcome more potentially intoxicated visitors.

“Saturday is a family day for many residents who live [near the East River] and they take that time to play games and relax,” said CB1 public safety committee member Rob Solano. “Anytime you add alcohol to that environment, it changes the dynamic of the venue.”

Smorgasburg’s application will go before the full board, where it would likely be approved so long as Demby brings a petition with scores of signatures from residents in favor of the food-and-alcohol plan and letters of support from public officials, a CB1 source said.

The food-only offshoot of the Brooklyn Flea opened last May in a lot adjacent to the East River and immediately attracted thousands of hungry denizens who feasted on spinach pupusas, tacos, lobster rolls, roasted garlic toast, corn flake cookies, and vegan ice cream.

This year, Demby hopes to add small batches of beer, wine and gin to the mix by opening a 10-foot bar in the center of the property, cordoned off from the food in a 30-foot by 50-foot pen in time for the market’s April 7 opening.

Bartenders would serve eight to 10-ounce cups of beer from Brooklyn Brewery, Kelso, and Six Point, as well as wine from Brooklyn Winery, and gin cocktails from Kings County Distillery, Breuckelen Distilling, and the New York Distilling Company — whose distiller can’t wait to introduce his gin to Smorgasburg’s thirsty masses.

“There’s no better place to have a gin and tonic than on the Brooklyn waterfront at the Brooklyn Flea,” said New York Distilling Company’s Tom Potter.

Harry Rosenblum, co-founder of the cooking school and store, Brooklyn Kitchen said bringing Brooklyn-centric beer and spirits to Smorgasburg is a no-brainer, considering the food festival’s objective.

“The goal of Smorgasburg is to support people making things and they should be able to highlight locally made beverages, bitters, and cocktails, in the same way they highlight other locally made food products,” said Rosenblum.

A much smaller winter version of the Smorgasburg has already shacked up inside the nearby Brooklyn Brewery on Sundays, where beer is readily available.

Updated 5:30 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Frank from Furter says:
The Community Board's opinion is only advisory. The State ILA will disregard it.
Feb. 10, 2012, 9:41 am
Anne from Williamsburg says:
The SLA meets in Manhattan every month. They tend to be interested in what the public has to say at these meetings. CB1 doesn't attend. If you have a strong opinion about a liquor license, whether pro or con, go to these meetings.
Feb. 10, 2012, 10 am
Jen from Williamsburg says:
As a parent, I would like an alcoholic beverage the most on Saturday!
Feb. 10, 2012, 10:22 am
Joey from Clinton Hills says:
if they allow alcohol, the next thing you know, someone will be selling balloons of nitrous. Don't do it!
Feb. 10, 2012, 10:37 am
JC from Williamsburg says:
How about gaming tables too? this is not New Orleans, or the Atlantic City Boardwalk. In fact the Smorgasburg, should be a special once a month event.
Feb. 10, 2012, 10:55 am
Voice of Verdad from El Burgo says:
CB1 is a meeting of clowns. I swear circus music plays in their heads while they try to think.

This is going to happen. SLA will approve it. The neighborhood will be better for it.
Feb. 10, 2012, 11:17 am
Buck from Williamsburg says:
Yea.. Like we really need more places to drink in Williamsburg..
Feb. 10, 2012, 12:26 pm
Dog Owner from Williamsburg says:
Smorgasburg did a poor job of showing community support which is why the Committee denied them. If you care one way or another, you should plan to attended the CB1 Meeting next week where Smorgasburg could ask for support of the whole board or contact your elected/CB1.
Feb. 10, 2012, 12:58 pm
Juan from Greenpoint says:
CB1 - an unelected body that never represents me. They seem to wish they lived in the Prohibition era with Carry Nation. Only in the US does having a little beer and wine around make an event "unfamily." Jesus Christ.
Feb. 10, 2012, 1:03 pm
Juan from Greenpoint says:
Also, the plan is not "on ice." No one gives a —— what CB1 safety committee says, they don't get to decide.
Feb. 10, 2012, 1:04 pm
Voice of Verdad from 11249 says:
I reached out to CB1 to voice my support. They don't care about anyone who is not a gross old, who walks into the meetings smelling like mothballs and old man and complains about those darned kids making a ruckus on their lawn.
Feb. 10, 2012, 3 pm
Ang from 11211 says:
The humbly named Voice of Verdad goes to one CB1 meeting to voice their one-note support for a Brooklyn Night Bazaar or OSA shows, and is now an expert on the matter? Your ageism aside, people don't have lawns in Williamsburg and CB1 doesn't listen to anyone who is not one of them, "gross olds" or otherwise. The poor, martyred, 35 year old, self proclaimed artists need to get involved in a meaningful way if they want to further dismantle what is left of the neighborhood without there being more push-back from people that think there is enough booze on nearly every block already.
Feb. 11, 2012, 9:43 am
Doug from Williamsburg says:
Interesting how someone mentioned the "Edge condo board" as a supporter. The folks who were promoting a discussion on the effects of the concerts were prevented from flyering the Edge. The Edge clearly has a stake in bringing more traffic to their property and increasing their visibility no matter what the impact on the community.
Feb. 11, 2012, 3:19 pm
Not Doug from 11249 says:
Exactly what "stake" does the edge have in increasing traffic to their property? It is more or less sold out.
Feb. 13, 2012, 9:03 am

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