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Park Slope Bar Owners Get Cold Shoulder in Prospect Heights

By Sonja Sharp | October 14, 2013 7:42am
 The owners of Uncle Barry's in Park Slope have hit major barriers in their plans to open a new sports bar in Prospect Heights. 
The owners of Uncle Barry's in Park Slope have hit major barriers in their plans to open a new sports bar in Prospect Heights. 
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Facebook/Uncle Barry's

PROSPECT HEIGHTS — Maybe the third time's a charm. 

For the second time in a row, the trio behind the Park Slope bar Uncle Barry's has yanked plans for a new sports bar in Prospect Heights, telling Community Board 8 they hope to resubmit their application for the third time in November.

Proprietor Josh Ellis, who has already rented the ground floor of 645 Washington Ave., said he can't afford to close his planned bar Moot Hall at 2 a.m. on weekends, as CB8 wants — rather than at the 4 a.m. weekend closing time he proposed.

"If we’re not allowed to be open late on the weekends, we have no realistic chance of succeeding," he said at the board's recent SLA committee meeting. "We’re at your mercy in that sense." 

Ellis and his partners, Jake Trebach and Matthew Volner, said they envision a low-key sports bar in the space.

"Our bar is a place you'd go to watch a game, but not the place you'd wear the jersey of your team," Ellis said by way of explanation.

But because there are already so many licenses on the block — and several within 500 feet of the proposed bar — the committee refused to compromise on its request for reduced hours.

The Moot Hall team first failed to secure support from the committee, which has an advisory role on applications to the State Liquor Authority, in early September.

"They came and presented and the committee voted to not support their application," SLA committee co-chair James Ellis said to the full board Thursday night. "They’ve rescinded their application and are attempting to apply once more." 

Distressed neighbors have packed the last two board meetings to protest the bar, which they say will oversaturate an already liquor-soaked stretch of Washington Avenue

"The very first meeting in September, we all showed up, and they just left," said neighbor Heather Raffo, one of more than a dozen residents who brought their young children to the meeting. "It's a shame to have to organize so many families with toddlers, but we'll do it endlessly." 

The owners left a letter assuring their new neighbors they would do everything possible to address their concerns. 

"We have successfully run a bar in Park Slope for the last two years and we get along famously with our neighbors," the letter said, referring to Uncle Barry's, which is located at 58 Fifth Ave., near St. Marks Place.

"We credit this to following community board stipulations, being respectful about noise concerns and just generally being around to meet and know our neighbors." 

But so far, residents remain unconvinced. 

"As it is, we're already surrounded," said neighbor Wayne Wilson. "It's a series of family buildings...there's already people falling over drunk in front of our building." 

The SLA committee continued to urge the Moot Hall team to consider shorter weekend hours in exchange for its support. But the bar owners insisted the compromise would doom them on the busy block. 

Josh Ellis said he would rather not open Moot Hall at all than close early.

"We’d rather lose a lot of money now than even more money later," he said.