Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Members Of Community Board 6's Permits And Licenses Committee Unanimously Vote To Disapprove Renewal Of Buschenschank's Liquor License

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At last night's meeting of  Community Board 6's Permits And Licenses Committee
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Buschenschank's Assistant Manager

Since Buschenschank, the pseudo-Tyrolian pub at 320 Court Street opened its doors, there have been numerous complaints against the establishment. From 2010 to 2014, 82 complaints have been made to 311. 45 of those have been noise complaints.

Noise Complaints were not the only problem.  There is also a question related to legal occupancy. The establishment most certainly should have applied for a Place Of Assembly Permit since they routinely have more than 75 people inside the pub. (The 75 include staff).  In recent months, the NYC Building's Department has issued quite a few violations and a partial vacate order for the building housing the bar.  Then there is the matter with the establishment's illegal basement music venue which features a full bar. Just two weeks ago, a fire broke out in the basement, and though it was during the day and was quickly put out, it illustrated what could have happened if the fire had started at night.

Buschenschank's State Liquor Authority License is due for renewal on March 31st, 2014. 
Since there have been so many problems with the establishment,  Community Board 6's Permits And Licences Committee asked representatives of the business to appear in front of the committee rather than to approve the license automatically.  The item was on the Committee's agenda last night.

Instead of appearing in person, Buschenschank's owner, ,James McGown, sent Buschenschank's assistant manager.  Not only was the manager unable to answer the simplest questions about the business, she was unable to present the committee with the necessary paperwork required by CB6 for a renewal.  Nor was she able to show proof that the establishment had notified its neighbors about the renewal.

It did not take members of the Committee very long to vote to disapprove Buschenschank's license renewal on the grounds that the establishment had failed to produce the necessary paperwork related to an application, had amassed over 80 complaints through the 311 system, had a prior history of refusing the Board's recommendation in regards to open windows and loud music, had an illegal, unlicensed bar in the basement, and had unresolved violations with the Department Of Buildings. 
In addition, "the applicant had been deceitful and negligent" and had shown indifference to the board as well as to its neighbors.

The vote against a renewal was unanimous. 

Though Community Board 6's role related to liquor licenses is strictly advisory, Gary Reilly, Chair of the Permits And Licenses Committee, seemed confident that the  N.Y. State Liquor Authority (SLA) would follow the Board's recommendation.  The SLA had been supportive previously, when CB6 voted to deny Buschenschank   a sidewalk cafĂ© license for many of the same reasons cited last night. 





42 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great, because if they get shut down, we can get another nail salon, funeral home, or thai restaurant on Court street. Pretty lame, Cobble Hill. Pretty Lame.

Anonymous said...

A big victory for the neighborhood! Well done, CB6.

Anonymous said...

I'm not too familiar with this, but here are my thoughts anyway for what they're worth... at first glance I feel the community board has behaves sort of fascist. Killing a successful business. Don't you realize there businesses help the Brooklyn revival? Do you forget where we were a number of years ago. On the other hand, the owner, if this reporting is accurate, has behaved irresponsibly. Perhaps a second chance can be given on certain grounds... Don't kill me for sharing my thoughts, we still live in a free society.

Katia said...

I welcome all viewpoints and encourage respectful discussions.
Personally, I believe that CB6 mostly goes out of its way to give businesses that are disrespectful to neighbors a second chance. So calling them fascists is a bit over the top.
In regards to Buschenschank, I think they acted correctly. The owner has a long history of questionable business practices and has gotten himself in trouble with quite a few City agencies. He just pushes every envelope. That's his business model.

Unknown said...

I would welcome another bar/restaurant that doesn't remove two walls worth of windows - these aren't four french doors like at BGH or Union Grounds - these are the entire exterior walls opened up creating an open air venue that is SO noisy I can sing along to the music and laugh at jokes people are telling from my living room which is across the street and facing away from the street. There have to be limits. Not crazy limits mind you - just respectful limits for the community. If you don't agree move to the LES please and out of our lovely neighborhood that will continue to be amazing with or without this bar.

Andrew said...

i've never been inside the place but it is hard for me to understand why anyone would defend a business and be critical of a community board's actions when the owner does not care enough to show up at a meeting that plays a role in determining his business's licensing status.

Anonymous said...

Bring OTB back

Anonymous said...

If this bar and restaurant is so disliked why is it is always full? Would the community rather have more high-end retail like Rag & Bone replacing the bar up on Court Street? Or Splendid, Intermix of Barney's? These tenants turn their lights off at night and do not make the street safer or more welcome and do not provide a place for the community to gather. I agree the owner should have been there and should be more responsive the communities concerns but the neighborhood is changing and not for the better. The average income is $238,000 and soon there will be no place to get a casual beer or eat an affordable meal.

chance bliss said...

i suppose i shouldn't be surprised that james mcgown misses yet another opportunity to act with some sense of respect for the neighborhood, much less the community board.

sending an ill-prepared assistant reflects poorly on him (and certainly doesn't make her look good either).

i live near buschenschank and have eaten there a few times. the pizza is better than the service, while the live entertainment that often generates much of the noise is, at best, forgettable.

should the failure to renew the license result in the closing of the restaurant, i would not shed many tears. i don't think their immediate neighbors would either.

with that in mind, i would find no issue with seeing someone else make an effort to create a fun gathering spot that welcomed everyone in the neighborhood.

to the person who wrote (at 11:16 a.m.) about these kinds of businesses helping the brooklyn revival, i suggest checking your sources. the brooklyn "revival" started long before places like buschenschank showed up, and many of them are now gone - either closed or priced out or have simply packed up and moved on to other parts of the city. of course, one can always tip your hat to places like frankie's, but i don't think buschenschank deserves any of the credit.

buschenschank exists to take advantage of the changing demographics in the neighborhood. that's not a crime, but they are hardly feeding the brooklyn renaissance, or whatever one wants to call it. they are feeding off it.

were it up to me, i'd prefer fewer places like DOVER (newly opened on court street) and more places like LA SLOWTERIA, located much further south on court street. it's not about cuisine, but customer service and how one decides to present oneself to the neighborhood.

both BROOKLYN FARMACY and SEERSUCKER are examples of relatively recent arrivals who, i think, make considerable effort to be a part of the neighborhood, while further down the hill, on the other side of the gowanus canal, one can see how a new venue like the ROYAL PALMS has gone to great lengths to be inclusive, inviting in many different people from the neighborhood.

or, just look across the street, at the BROOKLYN STRATEGIST. i rarely go there, but not only am i amazed at what they are providing for kids in the area, but the diversity of kids they bring in. i'm impressed.

as such, it would be nice to see a new business that appeals to a broad range of carroll gardens' inhabitants.

Anonymous said...

I went there when it first opened and liked it, but that was before they opened up the windows to the street. I have been reading of the owners shenanigans over the past couple of years, and these people are a problem; it is just a matter of time before someone gets hurt, not to mention the ire they have caused among their neighbors. Hopefully some responsible restauranteur will open up a better place at that location.

Trumbull Bully said...

Katia - in the spirit of full disclosure, can you disclose if you husband attended this meeting and if/how he voted?

I cannot wait until you complain about what moves in there. This is going to be great.

Leftover11 said...

RATS!
whole area is rats

BrooklynMatt said...

Just so I understand: any bar--no matter how illegal, disrespectful, or flagrantly ignoring the requirements all other venues follow--should stay because of the risk of its being replaced by a nail salon or Thai restaurant. Because there are so few bars? Btw, Funeral home?

Anonymous said...

Good news.....I was starting to miss the OTB

Anonymous said...

Just a little background for "Anonymous" who is not too familiar with James McGown. This ought to shed some light on his sketchy business practices.

http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20130317/REAL_ESTATE/303179983/james-mcgown-buys-bankrupts-and-bruises#

Anonymous said...

Look...the place was great when they first opened. i couldn't reccomend the food...especially the pizza enough (even at 25 bucks a pie) but now the quality stinks. the staff has been cut and overhauled. "grade pending" on window for the longest time (it's really a C) 2 weeks ago i walked past the pizza window on sackett street sometime time after midnight and saw about 10 mice on the kitchen floor. yum!... Clean up your act...cause i also do not want another nail salon or real estate broker.

Katia said...

Trumbully,
My husband is a member of Community Board 6 and serves on the Licenses and Permits Committee. he was there last night, and voted against the renewal along with the other committee members.

Anonymous said...

look... the place was great when it opened. i couldn't recommend the food ,especially the pizza, enough (even though it is $25 +tax). but now it stinks. The staff has been overhauled for the worse. the "grade pending" sign that has been on the window since opening is really a C. about a week or so ago i walked past the pizza window on sackett st sometime after midnight and saw a bunch of mice on the kitchen floor...yum! That being said-i hope they clean up their act cause i too do not want to see another nail salon or real estate broker in the neighborhood.

Spike said...

There were people on this board complaining about the noise even before they opened their windows. They speculated at how noisy it was going to be and then shouted "won't someone think of the senior citizens!" There is one thing in investigating their basement, it's another thing going after the business liquor license. Again, people who "poo poo'd" the establishment from the beginning has hounded it since it opened. And noise complaints are the easiest complaints to fake...I mean to make

Anonymous said...

@Trumbull What difference does it make who Katia's husband is, or how he voted? Are you insinuating that the her coverage here is biased? If so, perhaps you'd care to substantiate that with some actual evidence?

Jim said...

Good riddance. Bad food, inattentive waiters, noisy, and dirty floors. That is all.

Anonymous said...

And their cheap facade is falling apart already. Good riddance!

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't it have been easier for CB6 to just take away the live music acts and the downstairs bar? I understand the whole situation at hand, but for someone who enjoys the beer served at this place, it's a Killjoy. The acts who've performed here were always situated by the window. Which explains the noise pollution.

Anonymous said...

I'm 11:16 and apologize for calling the board fascist... As I said I do not know the details, but trust in your judgement. Still, I hope the business can have a second chance. The owner is clearly a fool, maybe he will behave now that he sees the community has power.

Trumbull Bully said...

Bully here...

Since this is a personal blog, it's obviously biased. This isn't news in the traditional sense.

This place has been "pseudo-Tyrolian" and loud and a nuisance from the start with Katia. This CB6 vote is a big win for Katia and Glenn. It's like House of Cards - Brooklyn. The screws are already turning on Brooklyn Social. Your days are numbered!

Katia said...

Bully,
You crack me up every time. Claire Underwood? Damn. I do have the same haircut.

Outlaw said...

Hate the place. It's loud and obnoxious. Walking down the street you have to listen to the pounding music for at least 6 blocks. And its closure hardly sounds the death knell for non-high end food options. Cheers to places like Abilene and Enoteca ... affordable, open air, friendly but managing not to feel like a college frat bar. (I'm sure that there's others that aren't coming quickly to mind. Point is, it's not all Buttermilk.)
And, just curious, what's wrong with Thai food?

Anonymous said...

I love the ignorance of the newbie who mentioned the influx of funerals homes. Hahahah.
Well by bye fake tyrolian disaster. Your seat awaits at Mad Dog and Beans on Smith. Hahahah

Duckie said...

As a 21 year resident of the neighborhood, I remember the OTB that was in this location and how long it sat empty before someone finally was able to get something going there. I've had a couple of meals at Buschenshank and was unimpressed. What did surprise me was how loud the place always is, especially for a place without TVs. I don't know what it is about it that makes it seem to loud. When the windows are open to Court Street it's amazingly noisy. I'm with those who firmly believe that the last thing that Court Street needs is another bank or clothing store but it seems that the management and ownership of Buschenshank have a very cavalier attitude about the noise complaints. I can think of a bunch of places on Smith Street that have done a much better job managing their impact on their neighbors.

Trumbull Bully said...

Bully here...

Looks as if Katia is both reporting the news and making news. Via DNAInfo:

“They have been pushing every envelope,” said Katia Kelly, who lives in the neighborhood. “This place has been a problem right from the start.”

Biased? Surely not...

http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20140326/carroll-gardens/brooklyn-beer-tavern-rejected-for-liquor-license-renewal-cb6-says

Katia said...

Bully, I think you should make time to attend some Community Board 6 meetings. They are open to the public, you know.

chance bliss said...

bully, now that you've expressed your opinion, i think you are making a mountain out of a mole hill.

this is a blog, not a news site. the blog's sole purpose is to express opinions, not to report the news.

do you expect objectivity here?

that katia has an opinion should hardly come as a surprise to anyone.

in fact, given how much she cares about the neighborhood (hence the reason for the blog to exist in the first place), wouldn't you expect her to have opinions?

there are dozens of options out there for you, if you want to start your own blog.

otherwise, let's continue to use this blog here to express our opinions, without confusing them for facts or news.

granted, there are grey zones between opinion and fact, and i think many of us want to be useful by reporting the news as objectively as possible, but it doesn't work if we expect a blog like this to be held to the same standard as a news site. as it is, most of those news sites can't even live up to their own standards, but that's another matter. : )

Anonymous said...

A questionable character profits from every dollar we spend in America. This blog has had it in for this place from the very beginning. As someone who frequents Buschenshank, I can tell you it has good people working for them and while management may be skirting rules, it's a great place for families to gather and enjoy a meal. I personally find it offensive that you would publish a picture of the Assistant Manager of the place and connect her with the ownership of the place, thereby publicly impugning her character. It's disgraceful and you should be ashamed of yourself. Maybe this place shouldn't have a liquor license but if I had to vote on whether or not you could have a 'blog license' I would emphatically vote 'No'. Even the title, "Pardon Me for Asking" screams passive aggressive behavior usually attributed to an over assertive and controlling grandmother. Have a nice day.

Katia said...

Well said, Bliss. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Well, there goes the only place in the hood (that I know of) to get biscuits and sausage gravy at brunch.

Anonymous said...

@2:21: They have your desired meal at Char No. 4. You'll be amazed at how much better it is there. Problem solved.

Andy said...

Abilene has biscuits and sausage gravy.

Becky said...

Anon 12:34 "Skirting rules?" It's not so great a place for a "family to sit down and have a meal" when the next fire breaks out in the basement because of their pesky little rule skirting.

The Assistant Manager was sent to publicly represent Buschenschank at the meeting. I don't think Katia is out of line at all.

Anonymous said...

Keep in mind that community boards are not the ones that grant or revoke or renew liquor licenses.
They are only making a recommendation to
state authorities.
If the jerk who owns this places has enough connections in Albany - he still might get it renewed
and place could remain a nuisance in the community.

Rich M said...

I guarantee if the noise was kept to a minimum they would have flown under the radar. But many restaurants and bars open with a big F U to its neighbors when it comes to being respectful regarding noise complaints. When your pursuit of profit interfere with my quality of life as a homeowner here before any trendiness existed then we rally and stand up for our rights too.

Gary Reilly said...

"Spike said...
There were people on this board complaining about the noise even before they opened their windows. They speculated at how noisy it was going to be and then shouted "won't someone think of the senior citizens!""

If "this board" refers to the Community Board or the Permits & Licenses Committee, that is incorrect.

Anonymous said...

I've never really noticed the noise, but the food is AWFUL. The 2nd & last time I tried to eat there i sat at my table for 30 minutes and no one ever came to get an order, bring me water, nada. I cannot understand how they've managed to stay in business this long.