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Sweet Stench of Hookah From UES Eatery Is Driving Neighbors Mad, They Say

By Shaye Weaver | November 28, 2016 10:24am
 Neighbors have flooded 311 with complaints of noise from Amoun since it opened in September 2015, according to city records.
Neighbors have flooded 311 with complaints of noise from Amoun since it opened in September 2015, according to city records.
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UPPER EAST SIDE — Residents of a co-op above a new hookah bar on East 73rd Street are fuming over the music and smell of smoke that pours into their homes every night.

The sweet stench of hookah has been filling the apartments above Amoun, a restaurant at 406 E. 73rd St., since it opened in September 2015, according to residents, who've also flooded 311 to complain about loud music coming from the establishment, records show. 

"It is disgusting to come home and smell that and to have it in our apartment and down our hallway," said Rob Bates, who lives on the third floor of the building with his wife and 3-year-old child. 

"It's a sweet smell, fruity, but it can be overpowering. Sometimes I have smelled tobacco."

In addition to hookah, the Mediterranean restaurant features belly-dancing nights every weekend and live acoustic performances on Fridays, according to Amoun's website.

The music from the eatery is loud enough to reach the upper floors of the building, according to resident Elliot Lee.

"I'm on the fifth floor, and it's been so loud that I even can hear it," Lee said.

"It affects all of us and the quality of life for every resident and shareholder. We have a very young child, a baby, on the second floor that is completely and directly impacted by noise that reverberates and goes through the apartment."

There were 54 complaints filed with the city regarding noise on the block, specifically from loud music or partying, between Jan. 1 and Nov. 19 of this year, according to the city's 311 service request map.

Amoun, which offers sidewalk seating, is located on a mostly residential block, shared by a candy store called The Sweet Shop and the Ronald McDonald House for seriously ill children.

"You have kids who have cancer and lung diseases, and a hookah bar with outside smoking," Bates said. "It's hard to think of a more inappropriate setting."

The Department of Health has also slapped the restaurant with violations for not adequately posting signs indicating a smoke-free workplace on Oct. 20, and for selling tobacco products without authorization on Feb. 10.

The co-op's bylaws require any new establishments in the building to get the approval of its board, but residents of the eight-unit building say they never heard from the owners of Amoun before it opened.

The space's last known tenant, Solimar Restaurant Inc. — which used to operate the Spanish eatery Malaga at the address before Amoun opened — still holds an active liquor license for the space, according to State Liquor Authority records. It's unclear if the ownership has changed since Amoun opened.

Saleh "Nash" Zonfol, Amouns's owner and manager, declined to comment.

"We would have never have approved it in our apartment building" had the owner come before the co-op board, Bates said. 

"There was no process they went through to get our approval. We as a board and building wouldn't have had an issue if they had just decided to open another restaurant and changed the theme."

Residents have tried to work with the restaurant to solve the issues, including asking the owner to install soundproofing and to prohibit customers from smoking outside, but nothing has been done, they said.

Lee and other shareholders of the building are in the process of filing a lawsuit to force the restaurant to fix the issues, they said.

"We've tried to have discussions with them," Lee said. "Residents want the satisfaction that we can live and resolve this in amicable and beneficial way for everybody, but all our offers have met with no real activity."