Sex Shop With Bar Has Liquor License Shot Down by Community Board
CHELSEA — You'll be able to buy a sex toy with your meal at a new Chelsea cafe — but you might not be able to get a martini.
Splosh Sexy Boutique, a combination sex shop, cafe and bar that recently opened at 115 Eighth Ave., got its liquor license application shot down by Community Board 4 this week.
Dozens of angry neighbors packed a meeting of CB4's Business Licenses and Permits Committee Tuesday night to oppose the liquor license, saying they feared Splosh would host loud parties and become a magnet for prostitution. The committee voted unanimously to ask the State Liquor Authority to deny a liquor license for the shop, which has alternated between the name Splash and Splosh.
"People don't need to see sex in places like yours anymore — they have the Internet," said neighbor Steve Ginsberg. "We don't need any more sex stores in our neighborhood — we don't want to move 42nd Street to Chelsea now."
But Boris Sorin, an attorney for owner Dumesh Kankanamalage, argued that the space had previously been an Indian restaurant with a liquor license and deserved to serve booze once again. A public benefit statement provided to CB4 said Splosh would have "white cloth [and a] full service staff, providing an affordable dining experience and an expansive menu of international comfort food."
The kitchen is in the rear of the space and the tables are in the front, so the food would have to travel through the retail shop — past lube, sex toys and underwear — to get to the diners, Sorin said.
Kankanamalage also owns the nearby Rainbow Station sex shop, one of several on Eighth Avenue.
Police have said that there have been occasional problems with prostitutes soliciting clients around the Eighth Avenue sex shops.
Splosh opened in November, selling sex toys, underwear and other steamy products, but has yet to begin serving food.
Sorin said that Splosh would not have private viewing booths and would have 38 security cameras along with a full security team, including bouncers.
"We're going to put security on the block to stop the loitering," he said.
The owners did not submit a security plan to the community board.
Neighbors contend that Kankanamalage has already proven he is untrustworthy by building the shop illegally, without permits, entirely between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m.
The Department of Buildings issued a stop-work order on the space on Oct. 31 for construction being done without a permit, according to records. Two weeks later, inspectors found that workers had ignored that order and construction was ongoing. The department issued a $5,000 fine for the violation.
Sorin said the construction violations occurred because Kankanamalage was out of town, but that did little to assuage the committee's concerns.
"I personally could not get behind this operator for doing this," said committee co-chairman Paul Seres, questioning the concept of a sex shop bar. "It just doesn't make sense to offer this to somebody."