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Astoria Plagued by Noisy Nighttime Sidewalk Cafes, Residents Say

The number of sidewalk cafes in Astoria keeps growing
The number of sidewalk cafes in Astoria keeps growing
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DNAinfo/Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska

ASTORIA — Astoria is becoming clogged with noisy sidewalk cafes that draw crowds of diners and bargoers to the neighborhood and make life miserable for locals, especially at night, some residents say.

The problem has become so bad in some spots that Community Board 1 rejected bids by two businesses at a meeting last Tuesday night to get outdoor seating, despite approving several other applicants for either renewed or new sidewalk cafes.

Dozens of sidewalk cafes on 30th Avenue, some of which stay open late in the evenings, have been attracting young and sometimes noisy crowds, turning longtime residents' lives into sleep deprived nightmares, according to residents.

"It is impossible to sleep at night," Karen Afrides, 54, who has lived on 36th Street off 30th Avenue for 20 years, said at a heated public hearing last Tuesday.

"Why is our quality of life diminished because some people want to have a good time? It’s not our good time."

Afrides, one of several residents who expressed their dissatisfaction with numerous sidewalk cafes and booming nightlife in the area. "We have to have our sidewalks back," she said.

Community Board 1 shot down bids for outdoor seating by Bar 30 Lounge on 30th Avenue and 35th Street and Doyle’s Corner on Broadway at 42nd Street, even though both businesses had been willing to apply for fewer tables than they had initially requested.

But their application is still pending before the city, which has final authority.

A representative from the 114th Precinct also voiced his concern, pointing out that Bar 30 Lounge had received 125 noise complaints from residents on the city’s 311 line since August 2011, and had also been issued three noise summons.

One resident, who introduced himself as Peter, said there is a lot of noise and loitering around the venue. He said his “girlfriend had been verbally harassed” by the bar’s patrons.

“I think it’s too much,” he said, adding that "there are too many places that have liquor licenses on 30th Avenue."

Kenneth Esehak, a lawyer representing 30 Lounge, said the bar had stopped live music and dancing two weeks ago and had also installed a better sound proofing system. 

He said “it’s not fair” that other bars on the street are permitted to have sidewalk tables, while 30 Lounge was rejected by the board.

Residents said the most significant concern about Doyle’s Corner, which is next to a bus stop, was that outdoor tables would block the sidewalk.

One neighborhood resident who uses a wheelchair said if a sidewalk café opened outside the bar, he would have to go into the street to get by.

The community board has also received complaints about the noise emanating from the bar.

Meanwhile, the board voted against granting a cabaret license to Sultra, a club planning to open on 31st Street, close to 36th Avenue.

Residents said the previous club at that location, Melao, which closed about five years ago, was a major problem in the neighborhood, as were other clubs in the area. 

Diane Walsh of the Dutch Kills Civic Association, who lives in the area, said that in the past clubgoers had trespassed on residents’ property.

She said there had also been incidents of violence around the nightclubs. Residents, she said, “had to deal with vomit, fights on the street and side mirrors ripped of their cars.”