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Meatball Shop Will Draw Sauced Crowds, Residents Worry

UPPER EAST SIDE — The Meatball Shop's plan to sell liquor until 4 a.m. at its soon-to-open store has been skewered by residents who say that the area is already overrun by revelers from nearby watering holes — and doesn't need any more booze-infused businesses.

The NYC-based chain — which has Lower East Side, Williamsburg, Chelsea, and West Village locations — asked Community Board 8's Street Life Subcommittee this week to support its liquor license application to the State Liquor Authority.

Though the SLA has final say, the agency often takes into account community board recommendations.

The CB8 committee eventually agreed that it would be OK with the planned 1462 Second Ave. location serving spirits late into the night — but only until 2 a.m., not 4 a.m., as the Meatball Shop had requested.

Meatball Shop management also must kept security personnel outside during peak weekend hours to prevent bad, drunken behavior, committee members said.

Still, the committee's decision came amid strong opposition from those who live on Second Avenue near East 76th Street.

Those residents have long voiced opposition to what they describe as a "mushrooming" nightlife scene, most recently alleging that nearby bar The Stumble Inn encourages noisy, booze-fueled antics.

"Four a.m., for a meatball shop?" one member of the public remarked right before the eatery's presentation began.

Another resident, Steve Harris, said that even as a meatball lover, he was mystified by the late alcohol hours.

"I was OK with it," he said, but "the only thing that sent shock waves was [the serving time]."

Meatball Shop co-owner Michael Chernow told the subcommittee that the concept is family-friendly, with the average diner's tab coming in at $17, he said.

He added that the hours — and desire to serve alcohol until closing — were simply business necessities.

"We are a restaurant. We are not a nightclub. We are not a bar," he said. "For us to really succeed financially, we need as many people to come in as possible. People tend to eat meatballs at 12 p.m. and at 3 a.m. We are a neighborhood restaurant — we just have to be open late."

His comments irked Orit Saigh, who lives on the block.

"He's trying to get the clientele that we've been fighting off from the Stumble Inn," a bar that's been billed as a "drunk mill" by Saigh and other neighbors. "This is not a classy restaurant."

Chernow countered that the Meatball Shop is, in fact, an upstanding establishment.

"We are a restaurant in the public eye," he said.