It is a stein of good faith.
The owner of a German beer hall in Park Slope has earned his neighbors’ blessing to build an outdoor drinking garden following a heated community board meeting last month, where a veritable mob of disgruntled locals showed up to protest the plans, saying his existing indoor venue was obnoxious enough as it is, creating a racket and attracting rowdy patrons whose antics spilled out into the streets.
The beer purveyor eased his foes’ fury by agreeing to a laundry list of concessions and better business practices, but neighbors say they won’t be totally satisfied until they see the changes in action.
“If he can agree to certain measures and then actually execute and implement them, he will start building up trust,” said Warren Street resident David Gordon, whose house butts up against St. Marks Place Teutonic tavern the Koelner Bierhalle.
The bar’s owner Marquis Williams met with a group of St. Marks Place and Warren Street residents in the weeks after the tempestuous Community Board 6 liquor license committee meeting, and agreed — amongst other stipulations — to limit occupancy in the new alfresco space to 22 people rather than the 50 he originally envisioned, and to shut the patio at 8:30 pm, as opposed to the 11 pm closing time he had desired.
In exchange, the board’s executive committee voted to recommend that the State Liquor Authority grant Williams the permits he needs to open the beer garden, albeit with its caveats attached.
If neighbors catch Williams breaking the accord, the panel will recommend the liquor authority reject any further applications for new permits or renewals of his pre-existing licenses.
Community boards’ rulings on such matters are only advisory, and members were reluctant to reject Williams’s application outright, because the liquor authority typically just hands out the permits regardless of what the panels decide, according to the board’s manager. By hashing out an agreement with Williams first, they were at least able to have a say and elicit some compromises.
“There are many bars throughout the city where the police have received repeated calls for gunshots and fights and other issues for establishments that are continually issued and reissued permits,” said district manager Craig Hammerman. “All things being relative, if we don’t have places where fights are breaking out regularly, they’re not going to take away licenses for bars that are too loud.”
Many of the community members’ complaints stem from beer hall antics that Williams says occurred before he took over as full owner in November last year, and many of the conditions he agreed to — including closing all doors and windows at 8:30 pm and posting security outside to manage crowds — reflect changes he says he has already made.
“I told the group things I was doing based on meetings I already had with other community members, and they wanted to make it official,” Williams said. “A lot of people said I was lying, but then they came and saw the place, and said, ‘I guess you were doing it.’ ”
Gordon agreed with Williams’s assessment that he was making a good faith effort to make nice with the locals.
“He was very cooperative and found these stipulations reasonable,” he said.
Whatever happens, Williams can expect Park Slopers hold him to the promises he’s now made, according to one area denizen.
“Believe me, the neighborhood will monitor this,” said St. Marks Place citizen Tom Harriman. “We’re old-school, we take it one step at a time.”