HELL’S KITCHEN — Pass the meatballs — but hold the late-night noise.
At a Community Board 4 meeting Wednesday — held just down the street from The Meatball Shop's Chelsea eatery — Hell’s Kitchen residents spoke out against the restaurant’s plan to close its proposed location at 798 Ninth Ave., at the corner West 53rd Street, at 4 a.m. when it opens in the fall.
The proposed closing time — not the restaurant itself — was the point of contention, several attendees said prior to Wednesday's full board vote on the eatery’s liquor license application.
“I want to make it clear we would welcome The Meatball Shop into our community, but not with a 4 a.m. closure,” West 52nd Street resident Holly Kanfer said.
If the State Liquor Authority granted the restaurant a 4 a.m. closure, the decision could have a “domino effect,” leading to later overall closing times in an area that already has issues with inebriated patrons leaving bars and restaurants after midnight, she claimed.
The neighborhood is already oversaturated with late-night drinking establishments, explained HK 50-51 Block Association co-chairman Bob Minor.
“It’s not like our community is underserved,” he said.
“What we’re going to see is patrons of other locations… in the area that currently have to close [early] leave and go to The Meatball Shop, where they’ll continue their nights,” another attendee added.
In response, The Meatball Shop’s chef and co-owner Daniel Holzman said he was willing to compromise on the closing time.
“I don’t believe [the people] speaking against us are representative of the whole community," he said. "I do believe they have an important voice, though."
He offered to move up the Hell’s Kitchen location’s closing time to 2 a.m., while agreeing to keep the windows facing West 53rd Street closed and adhere to noise and other stipulations the board requested.
The full board then voted unanimously to pass a resolution supporting the restaurant’s liquor license application under those conditions.
“[The spot is] inevitably going to be a bar and restaurant,” said Frank Holozubiec, co-chairman of CB4's business licenses and permits committee. “We thought it was a surprisingly reputable applicant for what could be a problematic corner location.”
Some attendees, however, hoped to see the board push for an even earlier closing time.
As they left the meeting, Kanfer and fellow HK 50-51 Block Association member Sherri Hodes said they were fed up with intoxicated patrons stumbling out of neighborhood bars and restaurants vomiting, urinating and wreaking general havoc outside their homes.
“They sit on our flower boxes… they ruin everything. The SLA doesn't live here," Hodes said.
“No family is going to be eating meatballs at 2 a.m.,” Kanfer added. “It’s only drunk people.”