HUDSON HEIGHTS — Popular restaurant and bar Le Cheile is one step closer in its bid to stay open an extra hour on Friday and Saturday nights after the community board's licensing committee gave a preliminary nod.
The owners of the eatery at 839 W. 181 St. had originally asked to extend their hours until 4 a.m. seven nights-a-week when they came before CB12's committee in September, but the move was met with some community opposition.
Community Board 12's licensing committee gave preliminary approval last week for the restaurant's change in operating hours to 3 a.m., which owner Richard "Tony" Caffrrey said would help it cater to locals who work the night shift.
"We have a lot of locals who work in the theater district who get home late around 1 and 2 a.m. and are looking for a drink and a meal," Caffrey said. "Closing at 2 a.m. on certain days prevents us from continuing to operate a profitable business and provide late-arriving locals a meal and beverage."
Last month, the committee's first vice chair and acting chair George Fernandez and Martin Collins, a representative for City Councilman Robert Jackson's office, met with the owners and the bar added soundproofing, more stringent and enforced parking regulations, a security guard on busy nights and the implementation of an ID scanner at the door.
Despite the changes, resident Elizabeth Porter, who lives across the street from the restaurant, said the place has become a nuisance with late night music and would only become more problematic if allowed to stay open later.
"It is a welcomed business in the neighborhood, but no family establishment is open until 4 a.m.," she said.
Caffrey denied the claim, saying only a cleaning crew is in the space as late as 5 a.m. some days.
Porter also complained that the community had not been given proper notice regarding the application.
"This venue is becoming a major issue in my area and more voices need to be heard," she said. "The board may have let them move forward but this fight is not over; mark my words."
The restaurant's location has a history of problems and one former bar Hispaniola, was shut down after years of years of community complaints about noise.
A representative for the 34th Precinct said he had no reservations with the venue's attempt to extend hours, but did warn that a lot of venues run into trouble in the 4-5 a.m. hour range.
"We saw it with the last venue there, which was Hispaniola," he said. "While Le Cheile has had very few complaints we want to make sure that they take the necessary precaution to prevent any flare-ups at those hours."
Caffrey said he plans to convert the adjoining space to the restaurant, formerly known as "Fume," into a cafe in the near future.
Le Cheile's liquor license is up for renewal on June 30 next year.
CB12's full board will vote on the committee's resolution in support of the extended hours during its general board meeting on Oct. 23.