By Nicole Breskin
WEST VILLAGE — The space that was once home to the Beatrice Inn — the famed but short-lived bar owned actress Chloë Sevigny's brother, Paul — may be reborn as a Spanish tapas restaurant.
That incarnation might seem a far cry from the late-night hangout that attracted Manahttan's A-list, and the NYPD in a raid that shuttered the spot for good. But memories of the Beatrice Inn still had residents wary about the future as Community Board 2 voted Thursday to approve an application for a 120-seat restaurant at 285 W. 12th St.
“This license is of tremendous concern,” said neighbor John Evans at the meeting. “After Beatrice Inn closed and was a well-known nightmare, my fear is this will turn back into a late-night bar.”
Even though nearly a dozen residents turned out to voice their discontent with the tapas plan, several board members reasoned that approving a restaurant tenant for the space was likely a safer bet than a bar or a club.
The board voted to recommend approval of the restaurant’s liquor license application to the State Liquor Authority with the stipulation that the new venue will operate as a restaurant only with reduced hours of operation and enough staff to control pedestrian traffic in and out of the restaurant.
Cobi Levy, the space's new owner, pledged at the meeting that he would stick to plans for a restaurant, stating it was in his best interest to have a good relationship with his neighbors considering the fate of the Beatrice Inn.
“People tend to go back on their word,” Levy said. “But if I burn you, I’ll burn myself for a long time in this business.”
The space originally operated as a speakeasy and became an Italian restaurant in the 1950s, but was sold in 2005 to West Villager and former CB2 committee chair Bob Rinaolo. Rinaolo then enlisted Paul Sevigny to develop and oversee the bar.
As its popularity grew, the Beatrice Inn began building a hip roster of celebrity clientele, from Kirsten Dunst and Kate Moss to Sean Penn and Keira Knightley.
But the bar was best known by neighbors for its allegedly illicit behavior, including drug use, late-night noise and rowdy behavior, according to residents at the meeting.