Downtown Denny's Withdraws Liquor Application After Community Opposition

By Irene Plagianos on May 6, 2013 2:26pm 

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 No beer and wine for 'upscale' Lower Manhattan Denny's — for now.
No beer and wine for 'upscale' Lower Manhattan Denny's — for now
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LOWER MANHATTAN —  Cheap-eats chain Denny’s is moving ahead with its controversial plan to open its first NYC outpost in a luxury condo building Downtown, but booze won't be on the menu — for now.

“America’s Diner,” which has leased the ground-floor spot at 150 Nassau St. — a swanky landmarked building that sits across the street from City Hall — withdrew its bid for a beer and wine license from Community Board 1, a company spokesman confirmed.

The spokesman said the restaurant, which has set off a firestorm of complaints from the residents of the 24-story high rise, will reevaluate its liquor license bid once the location opens. The spokesman did not have an update about when exactly the company plans to bring Grand Slams and other Denny's specialties to Lower Manhattan.

Since residents first got a whiff of the eatery's plan, CB1 has been inundated with more than 50 letters from tenants of 150 Nassau St. and surrounding buildings voicing concerns about Denny’s setting up shop in their neighborhood.

Many residents fear that their home, which sits next to a Pace University building, will be transformed into a hangout for college students attracted by the inexpensive drinks and food.

Locals also said one of their biggest concerns is the possibility that the restaurant will be open 24 hours a day — round-the-clock service is the usual set-up for Denny's, though its still unclear whether the Nassau St. location will follow that model.

Despite the withdrawal of the beer and wine application, several neighborhood residents said they don't see this as a victory.

"They are not fooling anyone — they have withdrawn only temporarily," said Michael Marton, president of the condo board for neighboring 140 Nassau St. "It’s just a tactic — they’ll reapply some months down the line when they perceive that the resistance to their plans have dissipated overall."

"This whole situation is far from being settled, I fear," he added.

The Denny's spokesman declined to say whether the outpouring of community resistance over the location influenced their withdrawal of their liquor bid, but said, "We just felt it was a more appropriate decision for the neighborhood at this time."

Once a commercial space, the building, erected in 1896, was converted to condos in 2003, said a longtime 150 Nassau St. employee.

The ground-floor retail space, which was home to a Taco Bell when the building was populated with offices, has been empty since the residential conversion, the building employee said.

The 60-year-old chain has 1,680 locations across the country.

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