Rob Shamlian, the owner of Fat Baby and The Derby, is one step closer to unloading two of his controversial Lower East Side eateries, just days after he “hostile neighborhood groups, the blogs with no culpability who are able to spout whatever nonsense they think of, and the constant harassment.”
The would-be new owners of Spitzer’s Corner, at 126 Ludlow Street, and Los Feliz, located at 109 Ludlow, told Community Board 3’s liquor licensing committee last night that they would keep the restaurants’ current names but gradually change the menu and atmosphere. Shamlian stressed one point: if the board didn’t like the way his restaurants/bars were currently being run, they should support the new owners (Alon Moskovitch, who also owns Mezetto on East Houston Street, and Sarid Drory, of the Midtown restaurant Artisanal) since they have more experience in the restaurant industry.
Last night, Shamlian’s eateries were once again the subject of criticism; Sara Romanoski, a member of the LES Dwellers (one of the “hostile neighborhood groups” to whom Shamlian was presumably referring), showed the committee a video clip, from September of last year, that she said showed an intoxicated woman getting into a physical altercation with a bouncer at Los Feliz. “It was supposed to be a restaurant, and it was always operated as a nightclub,” she said of the self-described “taqueria/tequileria”, which has three levels, two of which are below street level.
The committee moved to discourage a dance-club atmosphere on the lower level by recommending that the State Liquor Authority scale back the number of full standing bars from three to one on the top level, with only service bars (if any) on the other two levels. It also stipulated that the restaurant not stay open until the requested 4 a.m. on weekends and 2 a.m. on weekdays but rather 12 a.m. on weekdays and 2 a.m. on weekends.
As for Spitzer’s, there was some discussion about whether or not security should be required at the door, with board member Ariel Palitz saying the owners were correct to request it and others opining that a restaurant trying to foster a fine-dining atmosphere should not have a need for security. Ultimately, it was decided that the State Liquor Authority should make the final call on the matter.
The committee ended up voting in support of Spitzer’s application with stipulations prohibiting lines on the sidewalk and live music, among other things. Any open windows must be closed every night by 10 p.m.
Several members of the public came out to show their support of new management for the restaurants. Beth Fiore, who works at a Lower East Side art gallery, said there’s a need for high-end restaurants in the area. “There are artists who need that to attract slightly more affluent people to the neighborhood,” she said.
Today, Romanoski told Bedford + Bowery that she would love to see Los Feliz and Spitzer’s become great restaurants under new owners, but she’s curious as to why they would want to keep the old names. “They don’t exactly have a great reputation,” she said of the restaurants, adding that the plans brought before the board were somewhat unclear; the main changes, according to Moskovitch, would be new staff and higher quality food. This doesn’t exactly add up to a totally revamped image, Romanoski said.
“I don’t know if the neighborhood is really going to know that it’s not the same,” she said, though she is optimistic. “I think the restrictions [to the application for Los Feliz] would help create a full restaurant, and as a full restaurant it could be a community asset,” she said.
It’s uncertain whether the applicants will agree to them; they left the room angrily after the board’s vote.