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Hell's Kitchen Gay Bar Might Close During School Hours

By Mathew Katz | September 30, 2011 7:27am
Boxers co-owners Bob Fluet and Rob Hynds show members of the Hell's Kitchen 50th-51st Street Block Association designs for their new bar on Sept. 29, 2011.
Boxers co-owners Bob Fluet and Rob Hynds show members of the Hell's Kitchen 50th-51st Street Block Association designs for their new bar on Sept. 29, 2011.
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DNAinfo/Mathew Katz

HELL'S KITCHEN — Boxers may only open after the school bell rings.

At a tense meeting with the local block association, the owners of a proposed Hell's Kitchen gay sports bar said they are considering keeping the bar closed when a nearby school is open.

The owners of Boxers NYC in Chelsea agreed to open the main floor of their proposed Hell's Kitchen outpost at 1 p.m. at a meeting with the Community Board 4 Business Licenses and Permits Committee earlier this month. The bar's rooftop patio would open later on school days, at 4 p.m.

But at a meeting of the Hell's Kitchen 50th-51st Street Block Association on Thursday, the owners said that if having the bar open while nearby PS 111 is in session angers the community, they'll consider opening the first floor bar of their new location, at 776 10th Ave., at 4 p.m.

"We are revisting the 1 p.m. [opening time]," said bar co-owner Rob Hynds. "We want to be good neighbors."

Many angry and vocal residents voiced their concerns about the controversial bar, repeating that they don't want it near two schools in the area. The building used by the bar would be across from Sacred Heart of Jesus School, and abut the PS 111's playground.

The principal of PS 111 stepped into the fight over the bar earlier this week, criticizing Boxers for a promotion they ran last year that gave customers two-for-one drinks if they showed their underpants.

The bar's owners promised not to run a similar promotion at the Hell's Kitchen location on Thursday, but many residents were still opposed to it being so close to the school.

"Your point is to sell alcohol around a schoolyard," said Gwen Arment. "That's wrong."

Corey Johnson, the chair of Community Board 4, said that he understood the block association's concerns about the bar, but reminded them of the Boxers Chelsea location's good record with the NYPD's 13th Precinct.

"I want you all to know that the facts from people with previous experience with these guys that we are hearing are good things," he said.

The co-owners of Boxers stressed that record, and told block association members that their sports bar will be tame.

"We do not have drunks stumbling out of our buildings" said Bob Fluet, who pointed out that he is a father to two eight-year-olds. "There's nothing here that's embarassing to them."

Fluet also pointed out that the new Boxers location would be further away from apartments than many bars in Hell's Kitchen that are on the main floors of residential buildings.

At times the meeting was less a discussion of Boxers itself and more about the changing face of Hell's Kitchen. Residents were concerned that the area is becoming oversaturated with bars. According to community board members at the meeting, the landlord of the new bar, Croman Realty, made no secret of only wanting to rent the building to a nightlife establishment.

"What many neighbors don't want is a Hell's Kitchen where only the bars can afford to be here," said Paul Ames, who lives on 50th Street.

The bar will have its final hearing with Community Board 4 at the board's full meeting on Wed. Oct. 5, 2011. At that meeting, board members will vote on whether or not to approve a letter recommending that the State Liquor Authority grant Boxers a liquor license. That letter would also recommend operating hours to the SLA.

Some at the block association meeting vowed to fight the application at the meeting next week, but Hynds said he was confident Boxers would get the recommendation.

"We are surrounded by bars," he said. "There's not a place you can open in Manhattan where somebody wouldn't like it."