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Il Sole Vies for Renewal of Sidewalk Cafe License

By Claudio Cabrera | October 16, 2012 7:17am

INWOOD — A popular yet contentious Dyckman strip restaurant is attempting to renew its sidewalk cafe license, despite calls for stronger enforcement by residents and community board officials.

Il Sole has long been criticized by locals for noise emanating from the establishment and for keeping its sidewalk cafe remaining open longer than the agreed upon hours over the last year.

The restaurant's owner, Sandra Jaquez, reached an agreement with City Councilman Robert Jackson and State Assemblyman Denny Farrell to close the outdoor seating area promptly at 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and midnight Friday and Saturday last year.

Residents, however, have said the establishment regularly seats and serves people well past its curfew.

Jaquez was reluctant to agree to the curfew when first presented to her in 2010, but ultimately agreed to the terms when Community Board 12's land use committee voted to revoke her sidewalk cafe license last year. When Jaquez came before the board for her liquor license renewal earlier this year, she said closing the outdoor seating area ultimately hurts her business.

Jaquez admitted that the venue hasn't been perfect when it comes to meeting the required 10 p.m. and midnight deadlines.

"You have to understand that it's extremely difficult to tell a patron who is spending their hard earned dollars in our establishment to move from their sidewalk table," Jaquez said. "Some customers resist while others comply, but it's a difficult conversation to have."

Despite community concerns, CB12's licensing committee voted in favor of recommending the license renewal.

The full board will vote on the license renewal at its general meeting on Oct. 23.

The Department of Consumer Affairs will then weigh in on the application since community boards only serve an advisory role.

Maggie Clarke, a neighborhood resident who has regularly filmed video of the often raucous strip she and elected officials have termed "Alcohol Alley," criticized Il Sole during CB12's licensing committee meeting earlier this month for keeping its sidewalk cafe open past the stated hours.

"There have been numerous times this year where I have walked by and patrons are still sitting at the venue past 10 p.m. and midnight," said Clarke, urging the committee to recommend against the license renewal.

Local resident Katherine O'Sullivan echoed her comments.

"If the rules are being disobeyed there needs to be consequences," she said.

CB12 member Ariel Ferrera said he applauds Il Sole for making progress dealing with community concerns, but added that the restaurant management needs to learn how to better communicate the rules of its outdoor seating.

"That's the only way the complaints and issues with your venue will stop, when you begin sticking to those rules no matter how difficult they may be to stick to sometimes," he said.