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'Elitist' Neighbors Should Stop Whining About Noise, UWS Restaurateur Says

By Nicole Levy | April 14, 2017 8:34am | Updated on April 16, 2017 7:49pm
 The Ribbon at 20 W. 72nd St.
The Ribbon at 20 W. 72nd St.
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DNAinfo/Nicole Levy

UPPER WEST SIDE — One Upper West Side restaurateur has had enough of the neighborhood's "elitist attitudes."

Amid a heated dispute over sound levels outside The Ribbon — an upscale eatery and bar at 20 W. 72nd St., across from the historic Dakota Apartments — co-owner Ken Sturm said it was time for the Upper West Side to drop its snobbish stance.

"We have to just really stop with the elitist attitudes about where we live and where we are in New York City and our place in the world," Sturm said at a Community Board 7 subcommittee meeting Wednesday night.

Neighbors had attended to complain about noise emanating from The Ribbon, demanding that the restaurant's application for a renewal of its two-year liquor license include a provision that its French doors — typically open to a pedestrian-heavy thoroughfare — stay shut during hours of operation.

Among their ranks was the president of the board of the Oliver Cromwell, an apartment building next door to the restaurant at 12 W. 72nd St. Al Salsano said he represented the board presidents at The Dakota, The Majestic and The Mayfair, which account for roughly 1,000 apartments and 3,500 residents.

“When the doors are open, the noise that comes out is cacophonous," Steve London, a resident of The Mayfair, at 15 W. 72nd St., told members of CB 7's business and consumer issues committee. 

"No one begrudges these people making a living — mazel tov, go ahead! — but to come into where we live and to make that kind of noise is wrong, because if I did it to them, if I went in front of their business and screamed and yelled and fussed, they wouldn't like it."

"I think they should keep the doors closed," added Christopher Roberts, a resident of the Oliver Cromwell, citing intoxicated drinkers at the restaurant's bar as a particular noise concern.

"I pay rent, I pay taxes, I pay maintenance," said Roberts, at whose address rentals currently go for an average of $7,388 a month, according to StreetEasy. "I have to sleep at night."

Sturm said he had sought, "at great expense and effort," and received approval from the Landmarks Preservation Commission for The Ribbon's set of 1920s-style French glass doors. 

He added that he installed soundproof panels in the restaurant, among other measures, to keep noise from emanating to the floors above at 20 W. 72nd St., noting that no residents from that building were present at the meeting. 

“This is not a rambunctious venue, " said Sturm, who also owns Ellen's Stardust diner, the P.J. Clarke's saloon and the Iridium jazz club. "Everybody is giving us a 'mazel tov!' on doing business. We feel the neighborhood has been devoid of good dining for a long time."

Roberts acknowledged that The Ribbon has "good food, I will give you that. It’s a nicer restaurant than what was there before," he said, referring to the family-owned Italian restaurant, Sambuca, that had previously occupied the space for 26 years.

Sturm went on to say that his restaurant has experienced a downturn in business, "because the folks from the Oliver Cromwell put up their scaffolding over two years ago and accomplished nothing for the first year."

Brokering a compromise, the CB 7 business and consumer issues committee drafted a resolution denying The Ribbon's liquor license application unless the restaurant vowed to never open a sidewalk café, include sound absorption material in the awning it plans to mount when the scaffolding comes down, and closing its front doors at 9 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday and at 10 p.m. on the weekends.

The issue will go before the full community board, which makes nonbinding recommendations to the State Liquor Authority, next month. The SLA will have the final say.