An outdoor barbecue joint slated to open on the banks of the Gowanus Canal this summer received a thumbs up from Community Board 6 on Wednesday, despite an opposition campaign by neighbors who fear the venue will bring rowdy drinkers, late-night noise, and hordes of vermin feasting on barbecue scraps.
“We’re taking a risk here, and I’m worried we are going to end up leaving behind us a wake of sleepless nights and neighbors who suffer,” said Glenn Kelly, a Community Board member.
The Community Board voted 26 to seven on May 12 to recommend approval of a seasonal liquor license for Swan Dive, an open-air barbecue restaurant that local events venue mogul Akiva Reich plans to open for the summer in a lot next to his event space the Green Building on Union Street at Bond Street. But the green light came on the condition that Reich scale back hours, hire an extermination service, and provide his cell phone number to neighbors in the event of noise problems.
Reich told Community Board members last month that he planned to launch a 22-table, 157-person capacity alfresco eatery to be open through 2 am, six days a week, in a lot on Union Street between the Green Building and the Canal for the summer period through November, calling it a “trial run” to see if locals can stomach eating ribs on the banks of one of the most polluted waterways in the country, according to DNAInfo.
Neighbors balked at the plan almost immediately, launching a Twitter account and a now-defunct Facebook page to urge others to voice their objections to the Community Board.
Reich responded to the concerns by submitting an amended application — along with hundreds of signatures from neighbors in support of the restaurant — that addressed some of the major complaints, including agreeing to close by midnight, keep the area rat-free, and that he will not play amplified music.
Reich’s promises and the Community Board’s conditions are not legally binding, but the New York State Liquor Authority can opt to make them so if and when it grants the Swan Dive the permit to sell booze.
The effort to respond to neighbors’ objections showed Reich’s willingness to work with the community, according to one Community Board member and local business owner, who said it was a case of “better the devil you know.”
“What if he decides to sell the place and someone buys it who doesn’t care what the Community Board thinks?” said Lance Pinn, founder of Brooklyn Boulders, an indoor rock-climbing facility on Degraw Street at Third Avenue.
Community Board members said they still have their reservations about the new venue, but even if opponents’ worst fears are realized, at least the eatery will be closed by fall.
“We remain skeptical as to whether an outdoor space that accommodates 157 people can be successfully integrated into the community but our concerns are tempered by an understanding that this is a seasonal license that will remain in effect for a single season,” the Board wrote in its letter of recommendation to the liquor authority.