By Chris Shott
Special to DNAinfo New York
EAST VILLAGE — A Southern-style barbecue spot is still in the works for the former Lucky Cheng's space on First Avenue — even after celebrity chef Myron Mixon left the project and sued.
Pride and Joy BBQ just won a liquor license to open a sprawling two-level, 220-seat "draft house" and "honky-tonk" featuring three bars along with plenty of barbecue, according to documents submitted to the State Liquor Authority.
The late-night eatery at 24 First Ave. was on the verge of opening last May — and even held a preview event with Mixon, a cookbook author and judge of the popular reality TV show "BBQ Pitmasters" — but the plans disintegrated as Mixon sued his would-be partners for trademark infringement and breach of contract.
The litigation is ongoing, but a lawyer for Pride and Joy BBQ presented updated plans for a restaurant without Mixon to the State Liquor Authority last week. During the Oct. 8 hearing, lawyer Ravi Ivan Sharma said the venue would have a very different vibe from Lucky Cheng's.
“It’s not going to be a drag-queen establishment like the last licensee,” Sharma said. “But they do intend to host some live music and DJs for special events on occasion.”
Sharma did not say when the owners hoped to open the 'cue joint. The owners and Mixon did not respond to requests for comment.
The restaurant was originally conceived to feature Mixon's renowned barbecue recipes. A similar Pride and Joy eatery, which heavily promoted the Mixon connection, opened in Miami last October.
But in August, Mixon sued the owners of both the New York and Miami restaurants, accusing them of misappropriating his name and likeness, in addition to trademark infringement and breach of contract.
Restaurateurs Mike Saladino, Chris Mayer, Paul Thielecke, Jose Santa and Pablo Cardenas have yet to formally respond to Mixon’s charges, though the corporation’s attorney has asked the court to partially dismiss the suit. Thielecke previously told The Daily Meal that Mixon and Pride and Joy were “just going in different directions, plain and simple.”
It was not immediately clear what effect the ongoing litigation would have on the opening of Pride and Joy BBQ in New York.
Beyond its chef troubles, Pride and Joy has also faced some neighborhood resistance.
Last December, Community Board 3 asked the SLA to deny Pride and Joy's liquor license, unless the owners agreed to hire security guards and keep windows closed, among other conditions.
Sharma said most of the conditions aren't a problem.
However, the main sticking point was the restaurant's hours of operation: Pride and Joy applied to stay open until 4 a.m. seven days a week, but CB3 pushed for the place to close at midnight during the week and at 2 a.m. on weekends.
Appearing before the SLA last week, Sharma insisted that an earlier last call was out of the question.
“That’s not what the applicant bargained for when they took on a very expensive lease,” he said. “They knew that this had been a location that had been in the community for decades and had been a four-o’clock-in-the-morning restaurant, and that’s what they intended to put in there and that’s what they are going to put in there.”
The SLA agreed to a 4 a.m. closing time, as long as Pride and Joy agreed to serve food until 4 a.m. as well and followed all the other stipulations requested by CB3.
The restaurant’s owners did not attend last week’s hearing because, according to Sharma, they were attending the grand opening of Pride and Joy’s second Miami-area location.