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Block Association Beats Bedford Avenue Eatery In Liquor License Fight

By Sonja Sharp | December 20, 2012 5:08pm

CROWN HEIGHTS — It's not the Cinderella story they were hoping for.

Co-owners Luke Wheeler, Maxx Colson and Aaron Giroux had imagined Catfish Restaurant and Bar on Bedford Avenue as a late-night chow-spot for line cooks and EMTs. But that dream disappeared on Wednesday, when the State Liquor Authority issued an unusually restrictive "home by midnight" condition on its license.  

"The SLA board was quite tough on the Catfish owners, seeing immediately that they wanted to open what was really a bar, on a highly residential block," District Manager Michelle George wrote in an email.

The license has been the subject of vigorous debate since the summer, when neighbors on Rogers Avenue got together to oppose what they feared would turn into a noisy nuisance on their quiet block.

The explosion of nightlife on Franklin Avenue has spurred Community Board 8 to seek earlier closing hours for all new establishments.

But nothing so far has compared to this. Though Catfish had asked for a closing time of 3 a.m. on weekdays and 4 a.m. on weekends, the SLA tied its license to lights out by midnight on weekdays and 1 a.m. on weekends. 

"The committee had offered later hours of 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. which the owners refused at our committee meeting," said Atim Oton, who co-chairs the board's SLA committee. "The block association wanted these reduced hours listed here, and SLA listened to the block association."

Neither the association nor the Catfish proprietors did not immediately respond to a request for comment.