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Dyckman Street Restaurant Owners and Residents Hold "Alcohol Alley" Pow-Wow

By Carla Zanoni | July 13, 2011 2:59pm

UPPER MANHATTAN — Dyckman Street restaurant owners and nearby residents broke bread at a community forum meant to open dialogue about quality of life concerns on the block, dubbed "Alcohol Alley" for its rapidly-proliferating bar scene.

Complaints linger about the raucous party scene that's emerged on what used to be a residential strip between Broadway and Payson Avenue — with some residents saying it's gotten worse in the past year.

Many at Tuesday's meeting said the problem had shifted from inside the restaurants to the street.

“The issue is no longer the restaurants themselves,” said Frank Hess, special assistant to Assemblyman Denny Farrell, who represents the area. “The issue is what’s happening on the sidewalks. We have to find a new way to deal with the outside.”

Chino Chavez, owner of Papasito Mexican Grill and Agave Bar at 223 Dyckman St., said he has gone to great lengths to curtail noise from inside the restaurant as well as the sidewalk café, but said there is a limit to what he can do about noise and problems outside his establishment.

“I’m willing to work with everybody,” he said. “I wish I had control of what happens on the street, but once they are out there I don’t have control of them.”

Nearly 40 residents attended the meeting organized by the owners of the Dyckman Bar, Papasito, Corcho, Il Sole, MamaSushi and Mamajuana and the 34th Precinct Community Council. Representatives from the 34th Precinct did not attend the event, although they were scheduled to speak.

Attendees were plied with refreshments from each food purveyor as they brainstormed ways to curtail the late night disturbances that have been growing for at least the past four years.

Over the past year, all of the Dyckman Street restaurants located on what Farrell termed “Alcohol Alley” agreed to work with elected officials to improve quality of life concerns emanating from their restaurants, including earlier closing times for their sidewalk cafes.

Some residents accused restaurants of still being lax in closing their sidewalk cafes at the agreed upon time of 10 p.m. on weeknights and midnight at weekends. But restaurant owners said they have done their best to maintain their part of the agreement.

Hess reminded residents to call 311 to make complaints and ask for the Department of Consumer Affairs for sidewalk cafes and the State Liquor Authority (SLA) for issues emanating from inside the restaurants.

All agreed that rampant motorcycle primping and drag racing on Dyckman Street and nearby Seaman Avenue contributes to the loud and sometimes dangerous party culture.

“We’re dying to get them out of here, like you are,” said Joe Irizarry, managing partner at the newly-renovated Dyckman Bar at 221 Dyckman St.

Some residents said the State Liquor Authority must stop granting liquor licenses on the block. Over the past five years, the number of bars there has gone from one to six.

“With every liquor license that has been granted, my family has gotten less and less sleep,” said nearby resident Suzanne Beaubien who had her three-year-old daughter, Lucy, with her at the meeting.

Others said the area needs more police patrols.

“It would be nice to see more police policing the streets,” said Gregory Lora. “You just don’t see that enough.”

But many said the prospect of increasing patrols seems a far off reality and instead suggested the possibility of a Dyckman Street patrol made up of security from individual restaurants.

“We can keep reaching out to [the police], but you guys already have the power to do something,” Mondo Morales said.

“You need big ... men wearing the same shirts and patrolling the street together to make them think twice before they act.”