Volume 78 - Number 50 / May 20 - 26 , 2009
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Hundreds of 17-year-old girls lined E. First St. last Thursday afternoon to get free prom dresses at the Lower Eastside Girls Club, which is right next door to The Elephant.

Bar threatens to call the police on L.E.S. Girls Club

By Lincoln Anderson

In the East Village equivalent of “man bites dog,” a club is accused of being a quality of life nuisance, but the club is actually the Lower Eastside Girls Club, and the accuser is a restaurant/bar, which threatened to call the police on the girls.

It all started last Thursday afternoon as the Girls Club was holding its seventh annual free prom gown giveaway at 56 E. First St. Hundreds of excited teenage girls lined up along the pavement, in the process, blocking the way into The Elephant, a French/Thai restaurant and bar. 

After some words between The Elephant’s manager and a Girls Clubber, the manager threatened to call the cops on the teens.

Calling The Elephant’s threat mind-boggling, Lyn Pentecost, the Girls Club’s executive director, who lives on the block, derided the place as “a yuppie bar” and said it “keeps the street awake all night every night.”

“The Girls Club gives away over 500 free prom gowns to neighborhood high school girls at 4 to 6 in the afternoon, and The Elephant — a noisy bar — threatens to call the cops,” Pentecost marveled. “The manager got verbally abusive with the girls. Guess the early happy hour crowd couldn’t bear to see real happiness!”

Told that the Girls Club and its director were incensed and that Pentecost had contacted the media about the flap, Eduardo Sontan, the restaurant’s general manager, who was not at The Elephant during the incident, sounded worried.    “Oh, my God,” he said. “No — we apologized to them. ... It’s so unfair what they are doing... . It was like 300 girls in front the restaurant. You couldn’t get in.”

Also, he added, they were afraid the girls might get injured by falling through the restaurant’s sidewalk vault doors into the cellar, or by having something dropped on their legs by a deliveryman. 

Sontan said the manager working last Thursday only threatened to call police after one of the Girls Club members — who was “standing on a chair” — spoke to him curtly.

“One of the girls was rude to a 50-year-old employee,” he said. “This younger girl answered badly to the older man.” 

Sontan said the 10-year-old Elephant — which he called “a small, family establishment” — is more restaurant than bar. Vice President Joe Biden and his son, as well as Chelsea Clinton, all recently dined there, he noted. If the place is really so loud, why would such people go there “to talk business,” he asked.

Sontan said he has a 17-year-old daughter of his own whom he is hoping to send to college.

“I am not against girls,” he stressed.

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