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Local Board Votes to Deny Taqueria Diana Liquor License on Clinton St.

By Allegra Hobbs | December 6, 2016 6:04pm
 Taqeuria Diana plans to take over 69 Clinton St.
Taqeuria Diana plans to take over 69 Clinton St.
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DNAinfo/Allegra Hobbs

LOWER EAST SIDE — Proprietors of Mexican chain Taqueria Diana encountered a hurdle in their plan to open a third Manhattan location on Clinton Street with a drinks menu, as a local board has recommended the State Liquor Authority deny a liquor license for the space.

Restaurant representatives on Monday appeared before Community Board 3's SLA subcommittee to pitch plans for a 16-seat eatery at 69 Clinton St. that would serve a "limited alcohol menu" of tequila, mezcal, Mexican beer, and wine alongside the chain's California-style Mexican food.

But despite gathering 55 signatures and nine letters from neighbors in support of the plan, the board voted to deny the license, noting the plan doesn't offer a clear community benefit to outweigh concerns of creating another liquor-slinging establishment in a booze-soaked area.

"We're not dealing with an area that is devoid of anything at this point, and is overwhelmed," said subcommittee chair Alex Militano.

The board noted the space was within 500 feet of 16 liquor-serving businesses, placing it in violation of the SLA's 500-foot rule, which prohibits the issuing of a license within 500 feet of three or more liquor licenses unless the applicant can prove the operation offers a community benefit. 

Community Board 3 in April passed a resolution reaffirming its commitment to the rule, stating it will not approve licenses for establishments subject to the rule "unless they meet the high standard of being in the public interest."

The board also noted the Clinton Street location, once home to both C&C Prosperity Dumpling and La Socia Prawn, had not previously held a license, and that the taqueria's Chelsea and East Village locations did not serve liquor.

Restaurateur Matthew LaRue and his lawyer Robert Bookman argued the gathered signatures demonstrated a community benefit. The board disagreed, stating that the outreach to neighbors did not necessarily mean the license would be in the public interest.

The subcommittee's vote still requires approval from the full board on Dec. 20, then will go before the SLA. 

Ultimately, the board's vote is only advisory, and the SLA will decide whether the eatery gets its license.

Restaurant representatives declined to comment following the meeting.