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Matt Dillon Worried About UWS Restaurant's 'Night Club Vibe'

By Leslie Albrecht | May 12, 2011 6:57am | Updated on May 12, 2011 6:59am
Actor Matt Dillon showed up at a Community Board 7 meeting to voice concern about restaurant Calle Ocho.
Actor Matt Dillon showed up at a Community Board 7 meeting to voice concern about restaurant Calle Ocho.
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Getty Images/Kris Connor

By Leslie Albrecht

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

UPPER WEST SIDE — The Outsider met the Community Board on Wednesday night.

Actor Matt Dillon, whose role in 1983's "The Outsiders" helped propel him to stardom, told Community Board 7 he's worried that restaurant Calle Ocho will destroy the peace and quiet near his Upper West Side home.

Dillon, who wore a black hat pulled low over his face and sunglasses for most of the meeting, joined several other residents who said they're concerned about the restaurant's plan to move to 45 W. 81st St., near Columbus Avenue.

Calle Ocho is now at 446 Columbus Ave., a block and a half away. Nearby residents said they've had ample opportunity to observe Calle Ocho's clientele, and they don't like what they see.

"It's much more of a bar crowd, it's a late night crowd, it's a smoking crowd," said neighbor Robyn Epstein. Nearby resident Jackie Schellbach said Calle Ocho has a "very high-energy club feel," prompting owner Jeff Kadish to burst out, "It's not a club."

Kadish was seeking the community board's blessing for a two-year liquor license for Calle Ocho's new location. The New York Times said Calle Ocho's pan-Latin cooking was "as hectic as the nonstop high-volume soundtrack," while New York magazine praised its tamales and called the restaurant "uncalculatingly sexy."

Like his concerned neighbors, Dillon penned his full name, address and phone number on the meeting's sign-in sheet. The "To Die For" heartthrob sat quietly in the audience, gnawing on gum for most of the discussion. But as the community board was about to move on to the next agenda item, he leapt to his feet.

Dillon declared himself a fan of Kadish's other restaurants, which once included the now-closed Rain on West 82nd and Columbus Avenue. 

"This restaurant is different than a number of restaurants," Dillon told Community Board 7. "It's more of a bar crowd. It's more of a night club vibe."

As the actor and Kadish walked out of the meeting together, a smiling Dillon asked Kadish, "Why don't you put a really nice Italian restaurant there? That's what we need."

Outside, Dillon told DNAinfo that Calle Ocho isn't a good fit for a quiet residential area. "It's a big lounge type of a place," Dillon said. "It's not a restaurant that serves the neighborhood. It's a bar scene."

Community Board 7 will make its final decision on Calle Ocho's liquor license at its June meeting. Board member Linda Alexander declined to comment on whether the "Rumble Fish" star's grumbling about Calle Ocho could sway the vote.

"It was gratifying to see Matt Dillon here, committed to his community," Alexander said.