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Gay Bar Decried as Noisy 'Nightclub' Gets Board Approval for 4 a.m. Closing

By Maya Rajamani | November 3, 2016 5:43pm
 Rise Bar at 859 Ninth Ave., near West 56th Street.
Rise Bar at 859 Ninth Ave., near West 56th Street.
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DNAinfo/Maya Rajamani

HELL’S KITCHEN — A Ninth Avenue gay bar secured another victory in its quest for a 4 a.m. closing time Wednesday — but only after contentious back-and-forth between supporters who called the spot a haven for the gay community and opponents who argued the bar is a “nightclub” operating inside a residential building.

Twenty members of Community Board 4 voted to grant advisory approval to Rise Bar’s application for a 4 a.m. closing time on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays., while 18 members voted against the application.

Prior to the vote, about a dozen attendees spoke out in support of the bar’s application.

“For me, [Rise has] fostered a sense of community,” said an attendee named Brett, who moved to New York from a small town where “it wasn’t OK to be gay.”

“It means something to be able to be with your friends until 4 a.m., because where I came from, I wasn’t allowed to."

Another Hell's Kitchen resident, named Marco, called the venue "stylish" and "friendly."

"It’s the only bar that I feel comfortable being in,” he said.

Several of the board members who voted against the application maintained that the bar’s owners didn’t mention the karaoke and drag performances the venue would be hosting when they first applied for a liquor license in 2014.

“It was very nice to hear that the bar has created community,” board member Christine Berthet said. “[But] the responsibility of the applicant is to be truthful about what they are going to do, and we didn’t get that.”

A few residents living above the bar, meanwhile, maintained they’d been having problems with noise since it opened last year.

“It’s a residential building with a nightclub in it,” a resident named Chris said. “They call it a lounge — it is a nightclub.”

“While I fully support the community… I’d like to sleep — I have a long work day,” another resident added.

The board received 66 letters opposing the bar’s application and 16 emails supporting it, said Frank Holozubiec, co-chairman of the board's Business Licenses and Permits committee.

The bar itself submitted more than 800 letters in support of the 4 a.m. close, including those from 21 residents living in the building, he added.

Committee co-chairman Burt Lazarin said he requested that neighbors opposed to the bar submit "specific" problematic instances to the board, but noted that "nothing was presented." 

As part of the vote, the board agreed that the State Liquor Authority should consider asking the operators to apply to modify their method of operation, in light of the karaoke nights and other performances it hosts.

The board will include that request in its letter to the SLA, which will make the final decision about the bar’s application.

Before the vote, board member Jean-Daniel Noland said he wanted to speak “to a basic question of fairness,” noting the bar’s staff has been working with the building’s tenants for months to resolve noise issues for months.

“I’m not a fan of bars — I don’t go to them. They won’t let me in,” he joked. “[But] I don’t see how we can punish somebody if they’re trying to do their best to solve their problems.”