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Fistfights and Noise Cause Raucous Celeb Brunch Spot to Add Security

By Alan Neuhauser | February 19, 2013 7:13am

MIDTOWN — A Madison Avenue restaurant and lounge that's won shout-outs from stars including Steve Jobs and Megan Fox is toning down its weekend parties after neighbors complained of fistfights at raucous Sunday brunches.

"Fights, large crowds, dancing — brunch is the new Thursday night in Manhattan. It turns out 4 p.m. on Sunday, when everybody's had a few too many Bellinis, things start getting crazy," Nicholas Athanail, chairman of Community Board 5's public safety committee, said at the board's monthly meeting Thursday night.

"We've made…recommendations to keep this kind of behavior to a minimum."

Pranna, a three-floor, 15,000-square-foot Southeast Asian restaurant located at 79 Madison Ave., has agreed to hire a sound engineer to reduce the music noise that leaks from the building, relocate a DJ booth that had been near the restaurant's front window and bring aboard additional security guards, owner Rajiv Sharma said.

Police confirmed that they've been called to the club for reported fights or in response to noise complaints. Both Athanail and Sharma emphasized that the club has enjoyed a strong relationship with Community Board 5 and the neighborhood at large.

"We work very well…with so many different communities and groups," Sharma said. 

Athanail said, "I really have to say that I'm very pleased with the ownership. They're very responsive, they want to have a successful business and they're entitled to that, but they also have to be respectful of the community."

Pranna opened in October 2008 and counts among its customers celebrities ranging from Chelsea Clinton and Jack Nicklaus to Kanye West, Jude Law and Meryl Streep. It's hosted events such as the launch of Sports Illustrated swimsuit issues in 2009 and 2011.

Its brunch has become popular in the last year, second only to its Friday or Saturday night scenes, Sharma said.

"Somehow this city has taken to this brunch thing — I'm too old for it," Sharma, 51, said.

"The young crowd likes to celebrate here. If you have your birthday, and you have 30 or 50 people that are going to attend, very few places can accommodate you."