HELL’S KITCHEN – A charming sidewalk café can help many restaurants attract diners, but one Hell’s Kitchen gastropub could risk losing its liquor license because of an unsanctioned patio that opened six months ago.
Members of the Community Board 4 Business License and Permits Committee say that Albert Hall Tavern at 508 Ninth Ave. is operating an illegal sidewalk café without a permit. The board will now ask the Department of Consumer Affairs to investigate.
The restaurant currently has two tables and a large umbrella set up outside its front entrance. According to the committee, this allows customers to drink alcohol outside of the area permitted by their liquor license.
“The first time they put their table out, I said you’re going to get in trouble,” said committee member Christine Berthet.
Committee members said the sidewalk in front of the pub is too small for a cafe, and wouldn't qualify for a permit.
Up until this point, the board has had a genial relationship with the operators of Albert Hall.
“I’m really [upset],” said committee co-chair Lisa Daglian. “I won’t even use my Groupon there.”
Reached by phone on Monday, the restaurant’s chef Bill Seleno said that he was unaware that Albert Hall was doing anything wrong.
“It’s just two tables,” he said. “We haven’t gotten any notices.”
CB4’s district manager, Bob Benfatto Jr., said that he had reached out to Albert Hall's management and was referred to its attorney, who had yet to call him back by Tuesday night's committee meeting.
Seleno was also unaware that the matter was going to be discussed at the meeting.
“I’ll make sure our owner [Artan Gjoni] goes to that,” he said.
But no one from Albert Hall was there to defend the patio.
"If you walk up and down to any of the people that have a sidewalk café license, they pay a lot of money for that," Daglian said.
"It's just not fair, but it's also not legal."