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Pommes Frites Clashes With Community Board Over Late-Night Drinking

By Danielle Tcholakian | July 28, 2015 3:42pm | Updated on July 28, 2015 6:54pm
 Pommes Frites' Belgian fries and assortment of dipping sauces are moving to MacDougal Street.
Pommes Frites' Belgian fries and assortment of dipping sauces are moving to MacDougal Street.
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Facebook/Pommes Frites

GREENWICH VILLAGE — Community Board 2 wants the State Liquor Authority to deny a beer and wine license to Pommes Frites because the fry shop's owners want to serve alcohol until 4 a.m.

Pommes Frites' Second Avenue home was destroyed in a massive building explosion earlier this year. The restaurant is relocating to MacDougal Street.

Owners Suzanne Levinson and Omer Shorshi appeared at Community Board 2's liquor license committee meeting last week.

When the committee asked what has become a routine question — if the applicant would agree to stop beer sales at midnight or 1 a.m. — members were visibly shocked by the couple’s immediate head-shaking.

“Did you say no?” asked committee member Lois Rakoff. She rolled her eyes when they confirmed.

“We need the income to stay afloat,” Shorshi said. “The rent here compared to what it is on Second Avenue is, like, triple.”

“That’s not our problem,” replied longtime board member Elaine Young.

“Go someplace else,” muttered Rakoff.

Co-chair Carter Booth, who had professed to being a fan of the fries, tried to explain the board’s concern, after Levinson and Shorshi protested that they would be merely a drop in the bucket on a MacDougal Street already overflowing with partygoers and barflies.

“How do you lessen the impact on the existing conditions?” Booth asked.

Levinson told the board that 20 years on Second Avenue made her realize how much people want to be able to have a Belgian beer with their Belgian fries. She said the East Village business functioned fine as a “BYOB,” with people bringing in beers from nearby bodegas, but that she needs to be able to sell the beers herself at the new location.

The new shop is narrow, and a few steps below curb level. It was formerly occupied by a hookah lounge. Levinson said they plan to decorate with “an old-world wooden sign, no lighting, no illumination, the same way it was on Second Avenue.”

Levinson also emphasized how happy she was to have found a storefront in Greenwich Village, where originally wanted to open the business 20 years ago, she said.

“The Lower East Side was not really where I ever wanted to start Pommes Frites,” she said.

Still, she would not budge on the stipulations that Booth pointed out multiple times have been put before every other new business on that block.

“What makes you so special that you don’t have to comply with the same things that every other fast casual place on MacDougal street?” Booth asked.

“Because we don’t want to close in three months,” Shorshi replied.

“This is their livelihood. This is their life savings,” a lawyer for the pair added.

"I think we’ll just discuss this with you in front of the commissioners. We’ll look forward to it," Booth said, cutting off the conversation.

The board unanimously voted to ask the SLA to deny the fry shop’s application. The SLA has the final say in liquor license applications. The board's vote is advisory.

Bourgeois Pig, which is another East Village transplant, also failed to get support from the board to upgrade their license to allow liquor.