Gowanus Whole Foods Pulls Liquor License Application After CB6 Outcry

By Nikhita Venugopal on June 4, 2014 2:37pm 

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 Whole Foods in Gowanus withdrew a liquor license application after an outcry from Community Board 6 on Monday.
Gowanus Whole Foods
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GOWANUS — Whole Foods in Gowanus yanked its liquor license application this week after an outcry from Community Board 6 about serving hard alcohol at the grocery store.

Brooklyn’s Whole Foods, which opened at 214 Third St. last December, has a rooftop café that currently serves food and beer on tap. The store’s management was hoping to add more alcoholic products to the menu under the new license. 

But members of CB6’s permits and licenses committee questioned the store's application, which in some cases differed from promises made by reps at the meeting Monday night.

While Whole Foods reps, who declined to provide their names, said the rooftop café closes at midnight on Friday and Saturday and 11 p.m. the rest of the week, the application indicated it would remain open into early hours of the morning.

It was also unclear how many seats were covered under the license. One rep said about 200 seats were covered by the license, but that did not include an additional area of seats on the roof where patrons can currently drink.

“It just seems really, really unnecessary,” said board member Regina Myers.

Whole Foods has also hosted events with a DJ in the past, which caused another CB6 member to remark that it “sounds like a nightclub.”

“I don’t think it needs to be a place that has a DJ and hard alcohol and 300-odd seats,” Myers said.

Management at the meeting said DJs have played two events so far from 5 p.m. to about 8 or 9 p.m.

“We’re not looking to create a rowdy place,” a Whole Foods rep said.

Security and the possibility of drinking and driving was also a concern for some board members. Roughly 70 percent of Whole Foods customers in Gowanus drive to the store on weekends, management said.

But the brand-new store needed to prove itself as a “good neighbor” before it could earn CB6’s trust and a full liquor license, said board member Sayar Lonial.

Whole Foods will likely reapply for the license after the summer.

“We want to enter this with a positive experience,” the Whole Foods rep said.

Whole Food's Lincoln Park location in Chicago has a full bar at an in-store tap room, said spokesman Michael Sinatra.

Beer is sold commercially in several Whole Foods shops but only one Upper West Side location has a wine store.

“The ability to expand our offering is something we’ve heard from customers about and we’re exploring where that could be a good fit,” Sinatra said.

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