LONG ISLAND CITY — Popular Hunters Point eatery Alobar is petitioning Community Board 2 to lift a ban on the use of its backyard space, saying another summer without outdoor seating will be detrimental to business.
The restaurant, at 46-42 Vernon Blvd., can't seat customers in its 18- by 20-foot rear yard, a stipulation requested by CB2 two years ago as a condition for a liquor license recommendation.
But Alobar owner Jeff Blath is worried the lack of al fresco tables will be particularly bad for business this summer, as the city is poised to rezone the area to allow for more sidewalk cafes — pitting him against nearby competitors who'll be able to offer customers a seat outside.
"It's going to create a real disadvantage for us," said Blath, who estimates he loses about 20 to 25 customers on a typical busy summer Saturday who bail when they're told they can't sit outside.
"They would say, 'Okay, we'll go somewhere else,'" he said.
Blath added that he got a preview of things to come during Tuesday's unseasonably warm spell.
"My restaurant was empty," he said, "and all the places on the strip that had outdoor seating were full."
CB2 chairman Joe Conley said the board has had problems in the past when it came to bars and restaurants with backyards near residential apartments.
"As a general rule, the community, people who live there, have been opposed to the use of rear yards because they create such a nuisance," he said, citing complaints about noise, smoking and other disturbances.
The now-closed Lounge 47, which shut its doors at 47-10 Vernon Blvd. this winter, had been locked in a "bitter feud" for years with neighbors who complained about excessive nighttime noise from its back patio, Conley said.
"It's not something the community is unfamiliar with," he said.
Blath, however, said Alobar is a much more low-key operation that Lounge 47 was.
"They had music back there. They were open late at night. We're dining. We just want to have tables, people sitting down," he said, adding that the backyard would close at 10 p.m.
He said there's only one residential backyard that abuts the space, and that he's built 11-foot-walls around the outdoor patio and put awnings over it to block out any noise.
Blath plans to go before CB2 soon to ask that the stipulation be lifted.
As of Friday morning, Alobar's petition had 150 signatures.