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SoHo Residents Fuming Over Moomia's New Year's Eve Bash

By DNAinfo Staff on December 31, 2009 5:06pm  | Updated on December 31, 2009 8:26pm

Moomia at 157 Lafayette St.
Moomia at 157 Lafayette St.
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By Nicole Breskin

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

SOHO – A controversial neighborhood hot spot that has irked neighbors for more than a year is throwing, at least, one last hoorah after its liquor license was ripped away last month.

Moomia is throwing a bash on New Years Eve, as advertised on the venue’s Web site.

The nighttime hangout lost its license last month, but it is allowed a four-month grace period to sell alcohol under its previous license terms.

However, the party will not go as planned if some neighbors – who have been feuding with Moomia management over noise – have their way.

“The problem is every night is New Years Eve at Moomia,” said a neighbor who lives at 161 Grand, who didn’t want to be named for fear of repercussions. “We don’t want it around for four more months. We want it to close now.”

The resident said he is prepared to call police. He lives on the tenth floor of the building, but said he can hear music and rowdy patrons coming from Moomia’s adjacent ground-floor premise on a regular basis.

Community Board District 2 manager, Bob Gormley, said he also plans to put in a call to police about the New Years event.

“I’m going to request that the precinct keep an eye out because they’ve [Moomia staff and patrons] been bad neighbors,” said Gormely. “I’d like to see them operate in a legal manner. But they’ve pushed beyond the envelope.

“If they act illegally, I’d love to see enforcement agents getting in there and shutting the party down,” he said.

Thursday’s party at Moomia will have alcohol and DJ-spun music until 4 a.m., a rep for Moomia told DNAinfo.

The venue’s last liquor license, which expired last month, allowed the lounge to serve alcohol. But loud music or dancing – which require a separate license – were not permitted.

That license expired on Nov. 30 when the State Liquor Authority did not grant a renewal of the license in a strongly-worded letter. But currently Moomia is allowed to operate under the terms of its prior license under protocol of the State Administration Procedures Act.

A spokesperson for the State Liquor Authority said Moomia is allowed to serve alcohol until March 25, 2010 under the law. But it must operate as a restaurant, which means no loud music or dancing, or risk being slapped with violation fines of up to $10,000.

“We certainly expect Moomia to act like a restaurant [on New Years Eve and otherwise],” said State Liquor Authority spokesperson William Crowley. “They said they were a restaurant in their license and they haven’t been acting like one. We hope they comply with the law so everyone can have a safe start to the New Year.”

The State Liquor Authority works with the New York Police Dept. to keep tabs on venues.

In 2006, Moomia received two violations. This past August, the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement found six Department of Building violations and three NYPD summonses, including obstruction of an exit passageway, according to a spokesperson for the mayor’s office.

But Moomia’s owner, Andrei Lazarev, a former bartender at Cipriani, was furious over allegations regarding the possibility of any illegality at latest party.

“Is nobody allowed to throw a New Years Eve party? Every restaurant is doing a New Years Eve party,” he said.

“They are lying. I don’t know where these ideas are coming from,” Lazarev said of his alleged past misbehavior.

Moomia owners are due in court on May 28, 2010 for violations.

They are allowed a hearing to refute the denial of Moomia’s liquor license renewal. But Lazarev wouldn’t comment on next steps.