NEW YORK CITY — The State Liquor Authority denied a liquor license for a controversial Lower East Side Latino restaurant Thursday in the face of staunch opposition from local residents, despite its owner's roots in the neighborhood.
Known as 106 Rivington for its address, the restaurant was to be operated and co-owned by local bodega owner Jose Rodriguez. But after a public hearing Thursday, the SLA denied to grant him a full liquor license for the planned two-story establishment with a legal occupancy of 200.
Community Board 3's liquor license committee initially approved the license, but it was later rejected by the full board amid protests from surrounding residents, including local group LES Dwellers, which said there is an over-saturation of nightlife venues in the area.
This put the final decision in the hands of the SLA, which voted 2-0 to deny the license for the restaurant that planned to feature "modern decor and a creative Latin-inspired menu," according to the website LESSupports106Riving.com.
Rodriguez indicated that 106 Rivington would consider downgrading its application to a beer and wine permit in the hope of gaining more support from nearby residents, according to the Lo-Down.
Due to the area's abundance of nightlife venues, 106 Rivington needed to prove to the board it brought a unique public benefit to the area. It failed to demonstrate this to the SLA, but supporters of the restaurant nonetheless disagreed.
"This is a restaurant that is greatly needed in this neighborhood," said Anne Johnson, who spoke at the public hearing Thursday. "We have senior citizens who don't want to sit down with people drinking at bars."
Johnson, a Community Board 3 member and longtime East Village resident, along with other 106 Rivington supporters, said there was not enough diversity of nightlife options for the Lower East Side's Latino community.
"When you look at specific problems, they are coming from individuals who are from out of state, New Jersey, that come to party in our community," said Bernard Marti, a lifelong Lower East Side resident and friend of Rodriguez.
Rodriguez said he was born and raised on the Lower East Side and is now a part owner in four area stores, including E&S Wholesome Foods at Essex and Stanton streets, and Stop One at Rivington and Suffolk streets.
Diem Boyd spoke on behalf of LES Dwellers, telling the SLA her group did support 106 Rivington provided it opened without hard liquor, selling only beer and wine while closing its doors by midnight every night.
"We wake up to garbage on our flower beds, vomit, urine, broken glass, and this is what she sees, the children have to see on their way to school," said Boyd, a small business owner who has a daughter.
"We need daytime businesses because they have all been taken over by nighttime business," she said.