SLA Rejects Liquor License Application for Kemistry Lounge

By Leslie Albrecht on July 18, 2013 8:30am 

 A June 2012 shot of the back entrance to Kemistry Lounge on Prospect Place. The State Liquor Authority rejected Kemistry's liquor license application on July 17, 2013.
A June 2012 shot of the back entrance to Kemistry Lounge on Prospect Place. The State Liquor Authority rejected Kemistry's liquor license application on July 17, 2013.
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DNAinfo/Leslie Albrecht

PARK SLOPE — Plans for the Flatbush Avenue nightclub Kemistry fell flat Wednesday after the New York State Liquor Authority rejected its liquor license application.

Bowing to staunch community opposition, the SLA shot down Kemistry's quest to become a combination restaurant and lounge with bottle service and late-night live music. With a back entrance on tree-lined Prospect Place, locals said the nightspot didn't belong in their quiet neighborhood.

The SLA seemed to agree at Wednesday's hearing, said Peter Adelman, the lawyer who represented residents opposed to Kemistry.

"[The SLA] found that the proposed club was inappropriately sited, and that the applicants hadn’t adequately taken community concerns into account," Adelman said after Wednesday's hearing. "At the end of the day, [the SLA] didn’t believe the establishment would be in the public interest."

Though Kemistry co-owner James Brown told the SLA he was willing to cut the bar's hours of operation and scale down bottle service, the last-minute concessions did nothing to help Kemistry's case, according to Atlantic Yards Report.

Brown also vowed Wednesday to cut ties to his partner Leonard Bartletto, who was arrested in March on a drug selling charge.

Kemistry's lawyer Jerome Sussman said he and his client would consider next steps after they receive an official notice from the SLA outlining the exact reasons for the rejection of the liquor license.

"When I get the disapproval letter, I’ll sit down with my client and we’ll decide whether we want to go further, whether we want to drop it, or what," Sussman said. "There are several avenues open to us."

Ultimately, it was the lack of chemistry between neighbors and the would-be nightclub that doomed it. Sharon Davidson, executive director of the North Flatbush Business Improvement District, said Kemistry didn't seem interested in building trust with concerned locals.

She noted that another controversial bar, Prime 6, was able to win over the community after it changed course and transformed into a farm-to-table restaurant called Woodland. But Kemistry never committed to quelling local anxiety, she said.

"We're here to bring business in, and we want to support our businesses, but this is a rare case where a business just didn’t want to communicate with the community," Davidson said. "This is the first time this has ever happened to us."

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