By Patrick Hedlund
DNAinfo News Editor
LOWER EAST SIDE — Popular Inwood lounge Mamajuana had its request for a liquor license to open a downtown version of the controversial nightspot rejected by the local community board.
Representatives for the Dominican-themed lounge appeared before Community Board 3's liquor license committee last month to pitch their plan for a new outpost on Norfolk Street, but decided to hold off on the application until speaking with a local block association regarding any possible issues related to the operation.
Mamajuana's owners went ahead with the application this month, but the committee voted Monday not to recommend approving a license to serve booze at the planned two-level location at 107 Norfolk St., formerly home to the music venue Tonic. They cited the amount of existing liquor-serving establishments in the area and the street's residential zoning designation.
The four-year-old Inwood Mamajuana location has encountered problems due to its popularity, with neighbors complaining of patrons spilling out onto the streets and creating quality-of-life disturbances, an issue familiar to many Lower East Siders.
That reputation apparently made its way downtown, as the committee turned down Mamajauna's request despite approving a license for another operation there a few months ago.
The address's previous applicant, Dans Le Noir? — a dining-in-the-dark concept restaurant that has since moved to TriBeCa — received the committee's recommendation in August because it planned to hire sight-impaired workers to make up 40 percent of its staff, said Community Board 3 district manager Susan Stetzer.
That aspect of Dans Le Noir? provided a "public benefit" in the board's opinion, Stetzer added, something CB 3 requires to approve applications in high-density areas.
Still, representatives from Mamajuana expressed disbelief at the board's decision Monday, wondering why the French import received the board's endorsement over a group of local operators, the Lo-Down reported.
"We're from the neighborhood. I don't understand this. You approve a guy from France?" said one Mamajuana representative, according to the Lo-Down.
They also attempted to distance themselves from the Inwood location and tout their community involvement, but to no avail.
The general manager for the Lower East Side outpost, Victor Santos, declined to speak about the denial on Tuesday, saying he would reserve comment after next week's full board meeting.
"We just got to weigh our options and this decision by the community board," he said.