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Public Safety & Quality of Life

15 West 55th Street, West Café LLC d/b/a “DV CAFÉ”, application for a new wine and beer license.

WHEREAS, 15 West Café LLC ("Applicant"), has notified Community Board Five of its intention to file for a new wine and beer license for a for a café and/or bar (d/b/a "the DV Cafe") located at 15 West 55th Street, New York, New York (the "Premises"); and

WHEREAS, Applicant appeared before CB5 in May 2016 for a previous attempt at a license for the Premises, which application was denied by CB5 and subsequently rejected by the State Liquor Authority; and

WHEREAS, Applicant has now returned to attempt a revised method of operation; and

WHEREAS, The Premises contains approximately 6,097 square feet of floor space on the first floor of 15 West 55th Street; and

WHEREAS, The Premises contains additional space as well as an unenclosed terrace on the second floor, supposedly not intended to be licensed; and

WHEREAS, The Premises is adjacent to the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, and CB5 requests that the State Liquor Authority inquire as to whether this application is subject to the 200 foot rule; and

WHEREAS, The Premises has never previously been licensed to serve alcohol; and

WHEREAS, The Premises is currently used as a retail store, hair salon, barber shop and contains a bar and café area to which the Applicant wishes to add wine and beer service; and

WHEREAS, The Premises includes a partial kitchen serving light snacks, sandwiches, salads, pastries, soda, juice, coffee and tea; and

WHEREAS, The Premises will have one patron bar and no service bars; and

WHEREAS, The total capacity of the first floor of the Premises is 244 persons; and

WHEREAS, The Premises contains 6 tables, 12 chairs, and 8 bench seats, and 5 standing at the bar, for a total indoor service capacity of 25; and

WHEREAS, The Premises is located in a residential building containing 9 stories and 31 residential units; and

WHEREAS, The second floor of the Premises, once containing four residential units, was illegally demolished to create the retail space which is connected to the space which is the subject of this application, and such illegal demolition is the subject of continuing action by the Department of Buildings; and

WHEREAS, Although not expressly stated in the present application, question remains about whether the proposed method of operation for the Premises is that of a club to be called the "DV Club" in which members and their guests are served free alcoholic beverages, pursuant to their website (www.domenicovaccaclub.com) which reads:

"Members pay an annual membership fee and they can leave their wallet at home. In fact, the member plus three guests will have access to the club any time and can enjoy premium top-shelf open bar and light food every time they visit the club with no tab" and

WHEREAS, Although not presently intended to be included in the licensed premises, at the rear of the second floor, there is a large open terrace, approximately 1,048 square feet (the "Second Floor Terrace"); and

WHEREAS, The Second Floor Terrace is directly under the residential units; and

WHEREAS, A large number of residents appeared at the Committee on Public Safety and Quality of Life hearing to express their concern about this application; and

WHEREAS, CB5 attempted to negotiate reasonable restrictions on the method of operation in order to balance the interests of the Applicant, the residents, and the community; and

WHEREAS, Although the Applicant was willing to make some concessions regarding occupancy, hours, and use of the Premises, a number of significant issues remained unresolved and the Applicant refused and failed to address them, to wit:

a)      Definitive hours of operation;

b)      The number, frequency, and hours of private events and the nature of those events so that they would not be used as a means to avoid the general stipulations;

c)      Restriction on use of outside doors and windows to prevent noise from disturbing adjacent residents;

d)      Limiting the actual service area and whether patrons would be permitted to wander around the Premises with alcoholic beverages;

e)      Limiting the occupancy of the Premises to a reasonable number;

f)       Restriction on the use of live music, DJs, outside speakers, and the volume level of the in-house sound system;

g)      Restrictions on the use of the sidewalk in front of the Premises, which is in a residential building;

h)      Assurances that outside caterers would not be used at the Premises to serve alcohol or host events in non-licensed areas of the Premises;

i)        Restrictions on dancing in the Premises;

j)        Concerns about the Premises being or becoming operated as a club;

k)      Concern about potential use of outside promoters;

l)        Concern about the management of patrons entering and leaving the Premises, which is located in a residential building, and the parking/idling of cabs, limos and other vehicles obstructing the street;

m)    Concerns about maintaining cleanliness of the sidewalk in front of the Premises, which is in a residential building;

n)      Concerns about cooperation and communication by the operator and residents, especially in light of a bad history of behavior by the Applicant; and

p)      Concerns by the neighboring church and the general community adjacent the Premises; and

WHEREAS, Applicant refused and failed to address these concerns in an acceptable manner despite CB5 negotiating regarding same in good faith; and

WHEREAS, Without restrictions on the method of operation to address the concerns of the community, CB5 does not find this to be an acceptable method of operation; and

WHEREAS, Various elected and city officials, including State Senator Liz Krueger, Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried, Council Member Daniel R. Garodnick, Manhattan Borough President Gail Brewer, and NYC Department of Buildings Commissioner Rick D. Chandler have all expressed various concerns about the Applicant, the Premises, and this application; and

WHEREAS, Other issues that remain unresolved are

(i)     the Certificate of Occupancy does not provide for the current or proposed use;

(ii)   the Premises is the subject of 12 active Environmental Control Board violations, 17 active Department of Buildings violations, and 1 active Building Department complaint for unlawful acts; therefore be it

RESOLVED, Community Board Five recommends denial of the application by 15 West Café LLC for a new wine and beer license for the premises located at 15 West 55th Street, New York, New York; and be it further

RESOLVED, Since the Premises is adjacent to the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, CB5 requests that the State Liquor Authority determine whether this application is subject to the 200 foot rule.

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