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Community Board 12 Rejects Giant Heights Tavern Sidewalk Cafe

By Nigel Chiwaya | May 30, 2013 8:15am
 Community Board 12 voted against a proposed 80-seat outdoor cafe for the Heights Tavern.
Community Board 12 voted against a proposed 80-seat outdoor cafe for the Heights Tavern.
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DNAinfo/Nigel Chiwaya

WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — It looks like the Heights Tavern will have to keep the party indoors when it opens next month.

The watering hole's grand opening suffered a setback after Community Board 12 voted against a massive proposed sidewalk cafe this week — which members feared would be a "massive taking over of the sidewalk."

Heights Tavern, which is a new venture at 3910 Broadway by the owners of the popular Harlem Tavern beer garden, is pushing to have an outdoor cafe with 40 tables and 80 chairs. Community Board's licensing committee voted unanimously in favor of the cafe during the committee meeting on May 8.

But members at the full board meeting expressed concerns that the number of tables and chairs was excessive and would lead to noise complaints issues similar to those on Dyckman Street in Inwood, where residents routinely complain of noise and fights outside of restaurants.

"I don't want to hear the complaints like with Mamajuana, where people say they have to sleep in the kitchen or the living room because the noise is too loud," said board member Maria Luna. "We have to be prepared for this to happen in the future with this massive taking over of a sidewalk.

"This is crazy," Luna added.

The board considered adding an amendment to their resolution, urging the Tavern to lower its cafe size to 10 chairs, but board member Zead Ramadan said doing so would be cost-prohibitive to the business.

"We can't come here and look at their drawings and say, 'Change this," Ramadan said. "That would cost them a fortune. This application is done."

Heights Tavern co-owner Sherri Wilson-Daly told DNAinfo the vote caught her by surprise, adding that Harlem Tavern has had no issues since opening in 2011.

"Over the years we've never had any problems," Wilson-Daly said. "We've never had any noise complaints."

Unlike the Heights Tavern, Harlem Tavern's outdoor space never needed community board approval, Wilson-Daly said, because it is located within the footprint of the building. The Heights Tavern's cafe would take over part of the sidewalk on Broadway.

The community board vote is not the final say on the matter. The cafe can still receive approval form the Department of Consumer Affairs.

Wilson-Daly said the cafe already received DCA approval, but the department did not return requests for comment.