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Canz Lands an Awkward First Date with Community Board

By Mary Johnson | January 18, 2012 6:50am
The restaurant chain has garnered much attention for poaching servers and bartenders from rival chain Hooters.
The restaurant chain has garnered much attention for poaching servers and bartenders from rival chain Hooters.
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DNAinfo/Mary Johnson

MURRAY HILL — After opening without local support or a valid liquor license last year, the cleavage-boasting bar Canz a Citi Roadhouse is scheduled for a long overdue date with the neighborhood's community board.

The Hooters-style establishment, which has been serving booze on Third Avenue between East 27th and East 28th streets since October despite lacking a liquor license, is scheduled Jan. 26 to go before Community Board 6's liquor license committee — typically a preliminary step before a bar opens for business.

Up for debate at the meeting is Canz’s application for a new alteration license, which is required for bars that make significant changes to a licensed premises, according to an attorney familiar with the process.

Those changes could include structural modifications, like altering the size of a bar or increasing capacity. Such a license would also be required for bars that significantly change their method of operation — for example, going from being a restaurant that closes around midnight to a bar that serves booze until 4 a.m.

It wasn’t clear what prompted Canz representatives to apply for the alteration license or why they are doing it now. Neither Canz nor the State Liquor Authority responded to requests for comment.

When Canz debuted more than two months ago, it attracted attention for its buxom, scantily-clad servers, many of whom were reportedly poached from rival chain Hooters.

Canz has locations on Long Island and in Queens, but the spot on Third Avenue is the company’s first in Manhattan.

But the liquor license for the latest installment of Canz was invalid when the bar and restaurant opened on Oct. 21. There was an active license in place for the address under the name of the previous establishment, but the State Liquor Authority had no record of any request to change the operating name or to have the license transferred to a different stakeholder.

At the time of its opening, a Canz representative acknowledged that the restaurant was sorting out "some confusion" with the license situation. Although the SLA said it had launched an investigation, Canz was allowed to continue operating — selling cocktails, canned beer and all.

Residents and members of the community board lashed out against the establishment in the past, calling it an "unpleasant surprise" and requesting a meeting with Canz representatives to discuss the restaurant’s under-the-radar opening.

That request was intended to start a dialogue, said Board 6 chairman Mark Thompson. When Canz comes before the liquor license committee on Jan. 26, it will now be for a vote.

While the community board has no binding authority in licensing decisions, whatever resolution it passes will be sent along to the SLA, which weighs community input heavily in its decisions.

"[Canz] will be questioned," Thompson said. "They'll have to explain what they did, and it's up to the committee to decide whether they’ve done the right thing."