Volume 80, Number 18 | September 30 - October 6, 2010
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

McNally pulls Pulino’s as neighbors nix pizzeria plan

By Lincoln Anderson

Liquor licenses for restaurants and bars were, as usual, a hot issue at the monthly full-board meeting of Community Board 2 last Thursday evening.

On one closely watched application, for 18 Greenwich Ave. at the corner of W. 10th St., the board recommended denial of an on-premises liquor license.

The applicant is renowned restaurateur Keith McNally, who had been planning to open a Pulino’s Cafe at the location, a spin-off of his new Pulino’s pizza restaurant on the Bowery at East Houston St. Although the board denied the application, it said it would be open to uses other than an upscale pizza place, provided that McNally provides plans for mitigating traffic and noise, as well as parking.

In February, a fire gutted the low-rise brick building, forcing its tenant, the Village Paper Party Store, out of the space. The location has never before had a liquor license — it was previously the famed Sutter’s Bakery — so C.B. 2 is proceeding cautiously on whether to grant its advisory approval for a license to serve booze.

“We had several applications before and always denied them,” noted Richard Stewart, vice chairperson of C.B. 2’s S.L.A. Licensing Committee, speaking later.

Stewart said neighborhood residents had told McNally they didn’t want a Pulino’s clone, which they felt would be a highly active and noisy location. Instead, according to Stewart, they asked the restaurateur to make the spot a version of one of his more sophisticated eateries.

Stewart said McNally has agreed and is now planning to make the location a spin-off of one of his more refined places. It will have the same name as the original, but with “cafe” tacked on at the end, he said. However, Stewart said he wasn’t comfortable, right now, having it reported exactly which of his existing restaurants McNally will base the new Greenwich Ave. cafe on. Stewart said another meeting is planned between neighbors and McNally.

In addition, C.B. 2 gave its advisory consent for a liquor license for a new place at the long-vacant former Senor Swanky’s location, at the corner of LaGuardia Place and Bleecker St. Currently known just as 142 Bleecker St., it will be an Anglo-Irish, country-style restaurant and tavern, and — the main thing, to neighbors — not a sports bar. John Keogh, a bartender and bar manager, is one of the partners. According to application materials, it will have “a rustic ambience entailing time, astrology and travel” and will offer traditional British Isles fare, such as fish and chips, bubble and squeak, haddock in cider and haggis.

C.B. 2 also approved a beer-and-wine license for Miss Lilly’s, a Jamaican-style restaurant on Houston St. between Sullivan and MacDougal Sts. Neighbor Anna Wintour, Vogue’s editor in chief, had led the opposition to the application, turning out large numbers at meetings. But, according to Stewart, the applicant subsequently assured that the second floor would not be used by the restaurant and that they won’t ever attempt to lease it. Because of all the back-and-forth, C.B. 2 downgraded the application to beer and wine, Stewart said, but the operator can always come back and seek a full liquor license in the future.

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