Volume 74, Number 45 | March 16 - 22, 2005

Board says 14th St. bar can’t go yard, nixes alcohol

By Albert Amateau

With spring just around the corner, McKenna’s on W. 14th St. applied last month for a liquor license alteration to allow serving patrons in the pub’s rear yard garden but Community Board 4 at its March 2 meeting unanimously said “No.”

The community board’s letter to the State Liquor Authority recommending denial of the license alteration cited neighbors’ complaints that McKenna’s has been allowing noisy patrons to use the rear yard almost since the pub opened at 245 W. 14th St. in 1998.

The board also mentioned McKenna’s troubled history. One man was shot to death inside the bar about five years ago and a year or so later the body of another man who was stabbed to death was found on the sidewalk in front of the bar.

Residents of the co-op at 250 W. 15th St. who attended a Feb. 8 community board Business Licenses and Permits Committee meeting testified long and loudly about excessive noise from McKenna’s rear yard echoing up and down the block, especially since the city ban on smoking in bars went into effect in April of last year.

The rear yards of both McKenna’s and 250 W. 15th St. abut each other and are separated by a fence. About half of the 56 co-op apartments face the yard. A residence for nuns of the Carmelite order next door to

McKenna’s also has a rear yard next to the bar’s yard.

Bryan McKenna, operator of the bar, who also attended the Feb. 8 meeting, said he is emphasizing the restaurant aspect of his business more than the bar and that his clientele has become more sedate. He promised there would be no service in the yard after 11 p.m.

But the committee was skeptical and called on the full board to recommend a denial of the application. Kevin Kossi, chairperson of the committee, said McKenna had given rude responses to complaints by 250 W. 15th St. residents. And despite a stipulation in the current license prohibiting service in the rear yard, McKenna’s erected a lattice pavilion that covers about three-quarters of its rear yard and extends up the fence at the rear of co-op yard.

The pavilion is used mostly for storage now but has been filled with bar patrons during the summer, neighbors said.

“We’ve had to call the bar up to complain about the noise but it just goes on,” said Cindy Sterling, a resident of the co-op, in a phone interview this week “Occasionally we’ve had to call police and the 10th Precinct has been very responsive,” she added.

Stanley Bulbach, president of the W. 200 15th St. Block Association, told the committee that McKenna’s has illegally served patrons in the rear yard and has also placed stools on the sidewalk in front of the bar on 14th St. where patrons are served through an open widow on mild days.

Assemblymember Deborah Glick sent a March 3 letter to the S.L.A. urging the agency not to allow McKenna’s to expand its liquor license to the rear yard and also to review the bar’s current operation.

McKenna said this week that he recognized the community board had some concerns. “But community boards and block associations try to push everything to the point where it seems they’re trying to stop people from making a living,” he added. Regarding the community board vote against his license alteration request, McKenna noted that the S.L.A. has not yet notified him of any decision. “The S.L.A. is its own boss and while they consider recommendations from community boards, they don’t have to follow them,” he added.

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