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Boots & Saddle Shot Down by Locals Fearing Noise and Kids Seeing Drag Shows

By Danielle Tcholakian | September 10, 2014 11:10am
 Flippe Kikee and Sir Honey Davenport have a weekly show at Boots & Saddle called #YouMadMonday.
Boots & Saddle
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GREENWICH VILLAGE — Village drag bar Boots & Saddle was shot down this week in its attempt to find a new home, after residents raised concerns about noise, crowds and children being exposed to drag performances at the historic venue.

The bar, which must leave its longtime spot on Christopher Street soon after the landlord hiked the rent, recently signed a lease for a new space at 47 Seventh Ave. South, just off Morton Street, formerly occupied by the restaurant Soy & Sake.

But at a meeting Tuesday night, Community Board 2's State Liquor Authority committee unanimously rejected Boots & Saddle's bid to transfer its liquor license to the new location. More than half a dozen unhappy neighbors turned out to the packed meeting to say that the bar, which hosts daily drag shows and twice-weekly karaoke nights, would disrupt their quiet block.

“I cannot imagine anything less appropriate for this part of our enclave than this particular application,” said Greg Jackson, president of the Morton Street Block Association.

Boots & Saddle co-owners Ron Silver and Rob Ziegler bristled at Jackson's use of the word "enclave," which they saw as discriminatory against the four-decade-old bar's clientele.

"When they say 'enclave,' you know what that means," Ziegler said after the meeting. "They don't want our kind."

Further complicating the issue, representatives of the condo board at 47 Seventh Ave. South turned up at the meeting to say the condo's bylaws prohibit a bar with live entertainment on the ground floor of the building, which Silver and Ziegler said was news to them.

CB2 members asked if Silver and Ziegler had considered a different location, and they replied that they had, at 37 Barrow St. But CB2 denied that liquor license application earlier this year after residents raised similar objections.

“Seems like you guys are against us no matter where we go,” Ziegler said quietly at the meeting.

Boots & Saddle's owners also considered moving to a larger space in Chelsea but recently decided to drop that application because they feel strongly about staying in the Village.

At Tuesday's meeting, CB2 member Shannon Tyree praised Boots & Saddle as an important part of the neighborhood's history and culture, but said she could not ignore residents' concerns.

"I would love to see you guys find a space where you can really be who you are," she said. "It’s just not this space.”

Lois Rakoff, another committee member, said she worried that the Seventh Avenue South space was inappropriate because it is lined with windows and sits on a block that kids frequently use on their way to the nearby library.

"What about the kids walking by?" she said, adding that she was worried about children seeing drag performances.

The community board's vote is advisory and the State Liquor Authority will make a final decision on the application if it is submitted, despite the board's vote.

Regardless of what happens, Silver and Ziegler said they will continue fighting for a spot in the Village.

"We're not giving up," Ziegler said.