Proposed Red Hook Nightclub Promises No Strippers in Earning OK From Board

By Alan Neuhauser on November 29, 2012 1:46pm 

RED HOOK — Red Hook's only nightclub won official recommendation for its liquor license application Monday night, putting it on track to open early next year after promising not to turn it into a den of sin.

Brooklyn Community Board 6's Permits and Licenses Committee voted nine to six, with two abstentions, to recommend the State Liquor Authority approve the application submitted by Con Amore Cabaret, located at 18 Commerce St., provided that the club's owner submit a plan to reduce music and crowd noise that residents claimed has spilled over from the club's previous tenants.

"The bar is set to go. We're set to go," said Earl Dicks, Con Amore's general manager and husband of the owner, Cynthia Thomas-Dicks, a former Department of Education administrator.

Con Amore became the focus of intense scrutiny when its liquor application came before the permits committee earlier this year. It represents the address's fourth nightspot in 11 years.

At at least three public meetings, residents voiced concern about music and crowd noise, as well as the property's troubled past. The club's most recent tenant, Paris Cabaret and Burlesque, billed itself as an artsy burlesque venue but proved to be a run-of-the-mill strip joint. The prior club at the site, Hello Brooklyn, shut down after allegedly serving alcohol without a license.

"This was a pretty contentious application," permits committee chairman Gary Reilly said.

Dicks, 57, a computer systems manager for New York City Transit, labored to assure residents and committee members that Con Amore would operate on the level. He has worked 32 years in the entertainment industry, he said, most recently as the co-owner of Studio 243 in Downtown Brooklyn, which did not accrue any violations on its liquor license.

"I can assure you this is not going to be an adult establishment. There aren't going to be stripper poles or runways," Dicks said at an Oct. 22 permits committee meeting. "If I was doing that, I would say I was doing it, and I would be very good at it."

Instead of blasting loud dance music and serving $4 shots — which attract younger, rowdier crowds, Dicks said — Con Amore will cater to higher-income patrons in their late 20s and 30s with $6 or $7 beers, quieter music, watchful security and occasional live jazz, blues, R&B, salsa and stand-up comedy performances.

"We limit the noise by the type of music that we play and the volume of the music that we play," Dicks said. "I personally don't like loud music. So I'm not going to be in a place where the music is blowing my eardrums out."

A sound engineer has been hired to develop a sound-remediation plan for the club, he said, and both he and landlord Sal Reale expressed relief that they can now move forward with opening the club.

"This has been a pending thing now for a while. Everybody's anxious. So we just want to get going," Reale, 65, said.

"We're excited to get back and put our nose to the grindstone."

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