WEST VILLAGE — The embattled drag bar that faced vehement community opposition a year ago won the approval of one of its most vocal detractors in its successful bid stay open an extra hour.
Barrow Street resident Nancy Paisley protested Boots & Saddle's move from Christopher Street to Seventh Avenue South a little over a year ago, but at a Community Board 2 meeting Thursday night she said they've been a good neighbor while supporting the bar's request to stay open an hour later.
Members of the community board's liquor licensing committee were pleasantly surprised at Paisley's change of heart.
"And coming from you — you're a very vigilant member of the community," committee member Katy Bordonaro said. "So there you go!"
Last year, Paisley, who has lived at 36 Barrow St. for more than 40 years, said she did not feel safe walking past Boots & Saddle on Christopher Street.
“They have quite a few patrons who get belligerent, aggressive when they have a few," Paisley said last November. "In addition to the folks who come out in costume and parade around.
"This is not something that we are comfortable with in this area.”
The owners of Boots & Saddle had tried for months to find a new location after their landlord on Christopher Street said he wanted to raise the rent for their small space. But they were repeatedly stymied by locals who balked at having the popular gay bar, a mainstay of the Village for more than four decades, near their homes.
Some claimed children would be upset if they had to see the drag performers who frequent the bar.
“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, when the bar tried to get approval for a different place on Seventh Avenue South last September.
Co-owner Rob Ziegler eventually won the community board's approval for the former Actors Playhouse space, which the board felt would not disturb locals since it's below-ground.
Since then, Ziegler and his team have apparently proven themselves to be responsible operators and good neighbors.
"There's been some people in interesting outfits from time to time," Paisley said on Thursday night. "But your security has been good."
The board voted in favor of allowing the bar — which is currently open until 2 a.m. Sunday through Wednesday and until 3 a.m. Thursday through the Saturday — to stay open one hour later each night.
The SLA will ultimately make the final decision but has historically followed the board's recommendation.
Other applicants at Thursday's meeting included:
► Whynot Bistro, long a gadfly to the community board, particularly for the benches placed outside;
► A new ramen restaurant coming to 7 Cornelia St.;
► A new venture by industry veteran Phil Alotta, with a planned 70 to 75 seats at 310 Spring St.;
► A restaurant by celebrated chef Tom Valenti and his parents at 142 West 10th St., where restaurant Louro was pushed out due to a rent hike earlier this year;
► The return of an Italian restaurant, I Tre Merli, which closed its previous location at 183 West 10th St. two years ago due to a rent hike. Owner Paolo Secundo wants to reopen, under a different name but with the same food and concept, at 303 Bleecker St.
For the details on these applications, and a play-by-play of the meeting, check out our live-tweets.