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Bar Owners Scrap Space After Onerous Rules from Community Board, They Say

By Sonja Sharp | October 31, 2013 9:44am
 The owners of Uncle Barry's in Park Slope (pictured) 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 (pictured) have hit major barriers in their plans to open a new sports bar in Prospect Heights. 
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PROSPECT HEIGHTS — The would-be owners of the Moot Hall bar in Prospect Heights say the community board has rendered their attempts to open shop moot.

After two contentious meetings with Community Board 8's State Liquor Authority Advisory Committee, the would-be proprietors of Moot Hall bar say they're shelving plans to open the venue on Washington Avenue and are taking their business elsewhere.

Jake Trebach and his partners from Uncle Barry's sports bar in Park Slope have years of booze-slinging success under their collective belt, and planned to expand their brand to their home turf in Prospect Heights. But they say they're throwing their hands up amid citing what they and others have called a capricious, aggressive and even hostile vetting process riddled with confusion and delays. 

"I have no reason to deal with these people again — they just cost us too much money," Trebach said. "If we were Applebees or Fridays we could stand the hit, but we don’t have money to play with.

It's not the first time a businesses has abandoned the neighborhood over disagreements with CB8's committee. Back in April, another successful Brooklyn bar owner backed out of plans to open on Washington Avenue because the committee refused to support his application unless he agreed to set his closing hours before his competitors' closing time.

"We cannot operate within those reduced hours," Freddy's Bar owner Matthew Kimmett told the committee at its April 1 meeting. "I guess the nicest way to say no would be to withdraw our application."

Community Board 8 declined to comment for this story, but in committee meetings, members have said their primary concern is not whether small businesses succeed or fail — it's to protect the community. 

Even those who have successfully opened in CB8 say the committee process is excessively contentious and complicated.  

"You’re treated like you’re doing something bad or you’re doing something wrong when you try and open a business," said Alexander Hall, who operates Sunshine Co. and Milk Bar in Prospect Heights.

"They’re very powerful...you have to tread very carefully, and bite your tongue, because you go back for a renewal." 

As for the Moot Hall team, they'll be taking their business elsewhere. 

"We’re looking at places in Bed-Stuy, and some stuff in Clinton Hill and Ft. Greene," Trebach said. "We are definitely avoiding Community Board 8."