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Chelsea 'Midnight Brunch' Spot Il Bastardo Spurs Binge Drinking, Locals Say

By Maya Rajamani | December 9, 2015 10:44am
 A photo from Il Bastardo's Facebook page included the caption:
A photo from Il Bastardo's Facebook page included the caption: "Everyone's coming to the brunch party. Book a table for Sunday Brunch at Il Bastardo & mention this post to get a complimentary round of shots for groups of 20 or more!"
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CHELSEA — An Italian restaurant with a reputation for producing drunken, vomiting patrons has drawn the ire of neighbors, who say the debauchery and noise from its weekend brunches and "midnight brunch" parties is spilling out onto the sidewalk.

Il Bastardo, a self-described “large-scale outlandish brunch hot-spot” at 191 Seventh Ave. between West 21st and 22nd streets, offers a $39 weekend special that includes a liter of boozy brunch staples like mimosas or Bloody Marys.

It has also advertised parties with the same offerings that start about midnight and end at 6 a.m., a move residents said encourages “excessive drinking” and bad behavior.

“This is a culture we don’t want in our neighborhood,” said Bill Borock, president of the Council of Chelsea Block Associations, at a Community Board 4 committee meeting Monday night. “It’s a concern, and we’d like something to be done about it.”

In a letter to the State Liquor Authority, Borock outlined myriad problems neighbors have had with the restaurant.

Patrons not only crowd the sidewalk outside the venue, preventing pedestrians from passing by, but they have been caught vomiting and urinating while waiting for a table outside or taking a break from the noise inside, Borock wrote.

“Appropriate monitoring and control of crowds waiting to enter the establishment is not happening,” the letter added.

Il Bastardo’s has tweeted that it has a “#brunch crowd like none other” and it posted on Facebook about a “complimentary round of shots” groups of 20 or more can get by mentioning the post.

It advertised the launch of its “midnight brunch parties” back in September, and more recently posted about another midnight brunch scheduled to take place on Friday, Oct. 16, from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m., boasting an appearance by “DJ Universe.”

Yelp reviews for the restaurant describe it as “basically a day club - loud music, a dance floor, people dancing on tables, and entertaining performers,” as well as the place to go “[i]f you have not partied hard enough [F]riday night and want to continue the party on your Saturday afternoon." Images posted by reviewers include a "drunk girl who fell on [a patron's] table" and customers posing with bottles of liquor.

Board 4 chairwoman and Quality of Life committee member Christine Berthet pointed out that Il Bastardo is not actually allowed to host events, play live music, or serve food and drinks after midnight based on stipulations it agreed to with the board before it got its liquor license.

Committee co-chairman David Pincus also said the stipulations mean the restaurant “can’t have people dancing.”

Il Bastardo manager Sherif Ibrahim, who attended the meeting, said the venue addressed noise complaints three years ago by changing its doors to thicker glass and installing another set of doors, along with investing in a sound system that allows the restaurant to play music at various levels in different sections of the restaurant.

He acknowledged the restaurant has hired DJs and hosted events in the past, saying he was not aware the current license prohibited that and that the restaurant would discontinue the practices.

“I’m not here to fight anything — I’m just here to know what we can do,” he said.

Ibrahim said it would be difficult to prevent dancing if patrons — an older couple, for example — wished to get up from their tables and start cutting a rug during dinner.

“These aren’t senior citizens having a good time — these are scantily clad... I think they’re called shot girls," Borock responded.

The committee also planned to follow up on issues relating to the space's occupancy, with members pointing to its liquor license showing a 74-person limit. Ibrahim was under the impression the limit was 197 based on the paperwork hanging in the eatery.

To manage the restaurant’s crowds, meanwhile, Ibrahim offered to move a table at the front of the restaurant to make more space for patrons waiting for seats, and said he could use a small room in the restaurant to house any overflow.

Those concessions were not enough to appease Diane Nichols, a Chelsea resident of 30 years who called the restaurant, its management and its patrons “bad neighbors.”

“It’s all these young people who are being enticed to drink… and vomit on our sidewalk," she said. "This sort of institution should not be allowed in our neighborhood."