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Tony Roma's Plan to Move to Atlantic Terrace Angers Residents

By Janet Upadhye | April 4, 2013 2:11pm | Updated on April 5, 2013 12:54pm

FORT GREENE — Tony Roma's is set to open on Atlantic Avenue in Fort Greene — but the "famous for ribs" restaurant's expected arrival has some residents seeing red.

Residents living at Atlantic Terrace, a co-op building that will soon be sharing the ground floor with the international restaurant chain, are angered by the restaurant's late hours.

"We just want them to consider the fact that we have families here," said Sanjit Desilva, who lives at Atlantic Terrace. "There are 100 children living in this building."

Fifth Avenue Committee, which manages the building, has been looking to fill the ground floor commercial space since the space opened in 2010 and has been in talks with Tony Roma's for nearly a year. They recently finalized a lease with the restaurant.

Pending approval, the move is expected to happen in September.

But residents complain that they were not informed of the lease until one day before Tony Roma's was set to appear before Community Board 2 to apply for a full liquor license, clearing the way for the 230- seat establishment to serve drinks until 2 a.m.

"We are less upset at Tony Roma's and more about the lack of communication with the residents," Desilva said. "Fifth Avenue Committee has not been forthcoming with information."

Fifth Avenue Committee did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Desilva also said there is a discrepancy in the liquor-serving hours. Fifth Avenue Committee promised residents in an email sent earlier in the week that Tony Roma's would stop serving alcohol at 1 a.m. on weekends. But the franchise applied for a 2 a.m. liquor license.

"That extra hour makes a huge difference in sales when you are paying $5,000 a month in rent," said a lawyer for the Tony Roma's franchisees.

Community Board 2 voted to allow the 2 a.m. liquor license pending a letter of approval from Fifth Avenue Committee.

Given the nature of Atlantic Avenue and a need for businesses that cater to post-arena crowds, "a 2 a.m. closing time seems reasonable," said Community Board 2 committee chair Ruth Saunders.