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LES Movie Theater Gets Liquor License OK from Community Board

By Lisha Arino | October 20, 2015 1:35pm
 Metrograph will show independent and international movies starting in February 2016, its owner said.
Metrograph will show independent and international movies starting in February 2016, its owner said.
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EAST VILLAGE — A planned movie theater is one step closer to acquiring a liquor license, thanks to a wave of community support.

Community Board 3’s liquor license committee voted unanimously to support Metrograph’s liquor license application Monday night, after roughly 30 people showed up in favor of the theater.

Supporters included David Garza, the executive director of the Henry Street Settlement, who said the longtime neighborhood organization was “providing enthusiastic support for Metrograph and the potential for partnership with them” which could include mentorships with filmmakers and free screenings for youth and seniors.

“We have not met a more authentic partner recently,” Garza said. “Their sincerity in their approach to build collaborative programming for the wide spectrum of individuals that we serve is notable.”

Other supporters said the space — which is set to open in February 2016 at 7 Ludlow St. with two screening areas, a bookstore, restaurant, lounge and café — would be a welcome addition to the surrounding neighborhood, which does not have a nearby movie theater.

“The people that they’re going to attract with this very independent program is not a loud, rowdy crowd,” said resident Elaine Louie, who spoke in favor of the theater.

Despite the overwhelming support in the room, SLA committee chairwoman Alex Militano thoroughly questioned founder Alexander Olch about the theater’s restaurant operations and raised concerns about pedestrian traffic.

Olch said the restaurant, called “The Commissary,” was inspired by the dining areas of old film studios from the 1920s, '30s and '40s. The restaurant would be open during all hours of operation but would stop serving alcohol at 2 a.m., per an agreement with neighborhood groups, he said.

Noise would also be kept to a minimum, with the window facing Ludlow Street closed at 10 p.m. and only background music playing outside the theater. Soundproofing in the theaters would keep the movies’ “entertainment-level” sounds from spilling into the rest of the building or outdoors, Olch’s attorney said at the meeting.

Tickets would be for reserved seats and patrons would queue inside the theater, mitigating the amount of sidewalk crowding, Olch explained. Metrograph’s staggered event schedule, restaurant and bookshop would also dilute the foot traffic “so you don’t have 200 people leaving at the same time,” he said.

The full board will vote on Metrograph’s application at its meeting Oct. 27 at P.S. 20 Anna Silver School, located at 166 Essex St.