Locals Want to Pull Plug on Bar They Say Attracts Online Daters

By Emily Frost | October 3, 2014 7:25am | Updated on October 3, 2014 5:52pm
 UWS residents said Riposo 72's bid to serve booze outdoors would expose kids to "Internet people."
UWS residents said Riposo 72's bid to serve booze outdoors would expose kids to "Internet people."
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UPPER WEST SIDE — They're swiping left on this nightspot.

Local residents want to pull the plug on a wine bar's bid to serve booze in its outdoor seating area because it will expose children to seedy "Internet people" flocking there for dates after meeting online, they claimed at a recent community board meeting.

Riposo 72, which sits along West 72nd Street between Columbus Avenue and Central Park West, had its sidewalk cafe approved in August to the frustration of neighbors.

The bar is now seeking to extend its license to serve beer, wine and liquor at the 16-seat sidewalk cafe — which hasn't opened yet and has halved its proposed capacity under a compromise with the community board — prompting even more outrage from locals.

Resident Al Salsano griped that the wine bar has a limited food menu and attracts people who use it as a place for dates after meeting online.

"I have seen people say, ‘I met you on the Internet,’ and you’re putting that on the sidewalk?" he said incredulously. "I don’t want children walking near 'Internet people' meeting."

Many also argued at the Community Board 7 meeting Wednesday night that it was inappropriate to serve booze outdoors in the residential area.

Neighbors characterized their street, located a block from Central Park, The Dakota and Strawberry Fields, as a "bedroom community" and claimed Riposo's sidewalk cafe would mark the downfall of that designation.

The wine bar also sits across from The Dakota Bar, which opened in early 2013 with the goal of reviving the neighborhood's nightlife scene and regularly stays open until 1 or 2 a.m.

Community Board 7 members pushed back against neighbors' fears, referencing myriad sidewalk cafes nearby.

"Have you ever gone to any of the sidewalk cafes in this neighborhood? Do you find them all rowdy and people staggering out of them all the time?" asked board member George Zeppenfeldt-Cestero.

Resident Chris Horwitz retorted that he wouldn't know because, "I don’t go out to meet people I found on the Internet."

With a sidewalk cafe serving mixed drinks, the wine bar would likely become a college hangout, argued resident Glenn Shapiro.

"Fordham is nearby and there are other colleges nearby," he said, adding that drunk people tend to be louder, creating a nuisance for residents.

Susan Cassidy, the president of the board at 115 Central Park West, worried the cafe would negatively impact the experience of neighbors.

"The quality of life in the area is being carelessly eroded for trendiness," said Cassidy, who added she's lived in the area for 50 years.

Changes to a neighborhood's "complexion" start with the introduction of commercial activity on residential streets, noted resident Kay Sheehan.

"This is how it happens," she said. "Once you have a cafe serving drinks on the street, then you have a precedent."

Lawyer Martin Maylor, who represented Riposo 72, stayed mum throughout the meeting, only noting that the wine bar had complied with the board's stipulations for notifying the community of the meeting to review its application. 

The board ultimately recommended approving the license and the application will go before the State Liquor Authority on Oct. 7 for a final decision. 

Riposo 72's sidewalk cafe application was approved by Community Board 7 and subsequently the City Council this summer, after Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal reached a compromise with the bar to have its outdoor seats reduced from 32 to 16.

The board also approved a liquor license for Tarallucci e Vino on Columbus Avenue at West 83rd Street to allow the wine bar to serve cocktails and Italian liqueurs. 

It approved an expanded liquor license for Bellini Italian Restaurant, on Columbus Avenue between West 83rd and 84th streets, so the restaurant can have a full bar on top of the beer and wine it currently offers.

Both restaurants need final approval from the SLA.