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Owners Behind Custom-Cut Ice Bar Ditch Plans for East Village Venture

By Elizabeth Barber | April 10, 2013 8:01am
 Asphalt Jungle had sought to open on Avenue B near East 11th Street.
Asphalt Jungle had sought to open on Avenue B near East 11th Street.
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Elizabeth Barber/DNAinfo

EAST VILAGE — The owners behind a bar known for its cocktails filled with custom-cut ice will not be bringing a new venture to Avenue B, after the local community board declined to grant a liquor license to one of the neighborhood’s own.

Community Board 3's liquor license committee voted Monday night to deny an application from proposed bar Asphalt Jungle, to be headed by two owners of Dutch Kills, the popular Long Island City bar where bartenders hand slice cocktail ice from enormous slabs. 

It was a decision that shocked would-be co-owner Ian Present, who grew up on Avenue B near East 10th Street, just a block from where the proposed bar was slated

“It would have been a dream of mine to open a bar on the block I grew up on,” said Present, who added his mother still lives on the street and that his family has roots in the neighborhood dating back more than 110 years.

Present and co-owner Richard Boccato had applied for a full liquor license that would have capped the bar’s hours at 1 a.m. Sunday to Tuesday and 2 a.m. on Wednesday to Saturday.

“We respect the neighborhood,” Present told DNAinfo.com New York. “We know that it’s residential, and we weren’t looking to stay open till 3 or 4 am.

“I didn’t feel the decision was actually a reflection of the desires of the community," he added.

Present said that bar would have brought the ice-crafting techniques of Dutch Kills — where ice is custom cut to suit each vintage-style cocktail — to a “mature,” tiki-themed scene.

“Less graffiti, more classic tiki,” he said, of Asphalt Jungle’s planned vibe. The high-profile Dutch Kills crew also owns Hundredweight Ice and Cocktail Services, which supplies upscale, cut ice to cocktail venues.

“They felt the area was already saturated with bars and taverns — there are 10 within a 500-foot radius,” Charles Linn, an attorney representing Present and Boccato, said of Community Board 3. “They felt it was not in the public interest.”

Susan Stetzer, district manager of Community Board 3, could not be immediately reached for comment.

The board does not have final say over the granting of liquor licenses, which are approved or denied by the State Liquor Licesning Authority.

Still, Present, who said that he was "disappointed with the neighborhood right now," noted that he would likely not try to bring the bar to the East Village, though he was still hoping to open Asphalt Jungle elsewhere in the city.

“I have no doubt that we’ll get it in somewhere,” he said.