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SoHo Pop-Up Cafe Battle Ends with Only One Location Approved

By DNAinfo Staff on March 25, 2011 9:56am  | Updated on March 25, 2011 11:21am

A view into the kitchen of the restaurant What Happens When. CB2 denied What Happens When's application for renewal of its liquor license at Thursday's meeting.
A view into the kitchen of the restaurant What Happens When. CB2 denied What Happens When's application for renewal of its liquor license at Thursday's meeting.
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DNAinfo/Elizabeth Ladzinski

By Elizabeth Ladzinski

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

GREENWICH VILLAGE — Community Board 2 approved the application Thursday night of one pop-up cafe on Sullivan Street in SoHo, resolving a dispute about the number pop-ups that should be allowed in the neighborhood

The committee approved only the proposal submitted by Local Cafe after discussing applications for six pop-up cafes slated for SoHo and Greenwich Village, including two on Macdougal Street. The community board approved the pop-up at 144 Sullivan St. because they thought it would provide the most benefit for the community. 

The board received a petition signed by almost 200 people living in a two block radius of Local in support of putting in a cafe in front of the restaurant. It also received several letters vouching for the owners dedication to the community as a resident of an adjacent block for 22 years.

"This is one that neighborhood folks wanted," said Maury Schott, chair of the subcommittee for Sidewalks, Public Facilities & Public Access, while describing Local's application to the board.

Local also has insurance for the restaurant and will investigate extending it to the cafe, a point that was missing from other applications, according to the board.

While most decisions by CB2 are only advisory, in the case of the pop-ups, the board's decision is final. 

Dozens of residents appeared at the meeting to voice their concerns with the various pop-ups proposed. Many said the pop-ups would cause too much noise, bring more traffic congestion, and attract more rodents and other pests because of increased trash.

However, a few in attendance were in favor of the cafes, including Shea Hovey, 35, of Greenwich Village, who initially helped push the idea for the pop-ups with the Department of Transportation last January.

"I'm really surprised at how big of a controversy this has become," Hovey said. "All six locations add up to 1,600 square feet, and I think that's smaller than some penthouse apartments in SoHo."

The board nixed a renewal application for a liquor license for pop-up cafe called What Happens When, which serves as a restaurant and arts installation. However, the State Liquor Authority will have the final say on that issue.

Construction of the pop-up cafe at 144 Sullivan Street will begin in May, according to Monty Dean, a spokesman for the Department of Transportation.

The space will contain three to four small tables, with seating for eight people total, and will close by 9 p.m. daily. It is set to be open from May until Oct. 15 for the next two years, and no smoking or drinking will be allowed in the space.

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