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School Principal Fights Bar Over 'No Pants' Promotion

By Mathew Katz | September 27, 2011 6:39am | Updated on September 27, 2011 10:08am
Bartenders at Boxers NYC dressed up for Superbowl Sunday, Feb. 6, 2011.
Bartenders at Boxers NYC dressed up for Superbowl Sunday, Feb. 6, 2011.
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HELL'S KITCHEN — A principal is taking a stand against a proposed new gay bar beside her school — saying its history of hosting promotional nights that encouraged customers to strip down to their shorts make it a bad neighbor.

In an email to concerned parents and community members, Principal Irma Medina of P.S. 111 wrote that the school was worried about the new bar, Boxers HK, because it "intends to have a pants check-in, leaving the patrons wearing only their boxers."

"This is inappropriate for school age children to be exposed to during the day while they are in a learning environment," the letter continued.

Boxers HK is an offshoot of Boxers NYC, a Chelsea gay sports bar that is seeking to expand into a new location at 776 10th Ave. It got preliminary approval from Community Board 4's Business Licenses and Permits Committee for the move earlier this month, but has faced opposition from some in the neighborhood, including P.S. 111.

Critics are concerned that the bar sits beside P.S. 111's playground, and is also across from the Sacred Heart of Jesus School.

The bar plans to get around a State Liquor Authority statute banning any liquor-serving establishment from being within 200 feet of a school or place of worship by dividing the building in two, placing a liquor-free taco shop on the side that faces 52nd Street. That would place the entrance to the bar itself more than 200 feet from P.S. 111.

The Archdiocese of New York, which runs the Catholic school, has yet to take a position on the bar.

But Boxers' owners said their "pants check" promotion at the Chelsea location, which offered two-for-one drinks to customers who left their pants at the door and drank in their underwear, has been over for months — and wasn't coming back.

"It didn’t work," said Boxers co-owner Rob Hynds, who doesn't plan to run the promotion at the new location. "We had probably two people a night who would do it. They'd wear no pants and novelty boxers or something like that."

Still, Medina's letter circulated quickly among parents and the community over the weekend.

"Would you please pass this on to anyone in the ‘hood who might be concerned about a booty call next to one of our schools?" wrote Tom Cayler, a Hell's Kitchen resident and member of the West Side Neighborhood Alliance, who said he sent the email to several other parents. He added that he is angry because the bar is seeking to circumvent the state's 200-foot ban.

Medina also wrote that she was concerned that children going out for lunch would walk past the bar, and that students would have a "direct view of the rooftop bar and patrons causing distraction and disruption to their learning."

Medina did not respond to calls from DNAinfo.

Hynds said it would take "X-ray vision to see in" to the rooftop bar, which will be surrounded by high walls that are more than six feet tall. He said the bar will be showing the community their blueprints at an on-site meeting next Mon., Oct. 3. The time has yet to be determined, but it will be after work, he said.

"It's a brick wall. And if you could see it, all you'd see is people eating," he added.

Hynds explained that he has reached out to administrators at the school to discuss their concerns, but they have not yet responded to multiple requests for dialogue.

Hynds also said that even if he was still running the "pants check" promotion, it would be a lot more tame than parents think.

"The reality is a lot of people would show just their waistband, and even so boxers cover as much as bermuda shorts," he said.

"We’re not a briefs bar — we’re a boxers bar."