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Death and Company


johnder
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I don't think the existence of a food write-up by Bruni is going to be considered dispositive by anyone.

you can't tell me that it wouldn't be prima facie evidence that they're operating a restaurant? of course it would. it may not be dispositive in and of itself...but it sure as heck would help...

Of course it wouldn't. Do you really think Pegu Club is a restaurant under any accepted definition of the word?

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I don't think the existence of a food write-up by Bruni is going to be considered dispositive by anyone.

you can't tell me that it wouldn't be prima facie evidence that they're operating a restaurant? of course it would. it may not be dispositive in and of itself...but it sure as heck would help...

Of course it wouldn't. Do you really think Pegu Club is a restaurant under any accepted definition of the word?

What you or I think is absolutely irrelevant. what is relevant is that a "review" of the food by no less than the official restaurant reviewer for the NY Times is a pretty strong argument in front of the CB. its documentary evidence that it is taken seriously as a restaurant. (I'm not saying that PC actually is a restaurant in any meaningful sense...I'm saying that if I were their counsel and had that as an issue that I would be arguing that a great deal of weight should be placed on the judgment of Frank Bruni.)

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Here's Frank Bruni's Diner's Journal entry on the Pegu Club. Tell me what about it you would point to show that Pegu Club is a restaurant, as opposed to a bar serving (in Bruni's own words) bar food.

Diner's Journal

The Pegu Club

By FRANK BRUNI

Published: September 23, 2005

I knew the pleading look. I'd seen it before. Not just on her face but on the faces of other friends who had trudged with me to so many cursed destinations and, upon finding a charmed one, wanted to be able to keep it to - and for - themselves.

And I knew the question she would ask: "Do you really have to tell people about this?"

We were at the Pegu Club, feeling happy and gorgeous. Happy because the weekend was finally upon us, and the Pegu Club's cocktail list was like a liquid welcome mat, an exhortation to unwind. Gorgeous because the lighting makes sure of it. The long, long rectangle of a room has a glow, and so does everyone in it. Especially after one or two drinks.

And you'll probably have two, unless you have three. Maybe you'll start with the Pegu Club Cocktail. Its name tags it as the patron spirit of the place, and its recipe of gin, bitters, orange Curaçao and fresh lime juice promises sweetness and tang, punch and bite.

Maybe you'll move on to the Fitty Fitty, which is essentially an awfully wet martini, equal parts gin and dry vermouth. That sounded to me like much too much vermouth, but the grace note, a dash of Regan's Orange Bitters, cut the vermouth's effect, somehow making everything right.

Along the way you may decide to put some food in your stomach, and the Pegu Club's indulgence - and facilitation - of that impulse earn it a place in this column, lend it a bit of distinction and make it representative of lounges throughout New York City these days.

More and more of the newer ones seem determined to present somewhat original, sophisticated nibbles and to keep their customers from going elsewhere to graze. The Pegu Club's menu, put together with the input of the chef Gavin Citron, isn't long, but it has a number of choices that sound intriguing. A few of them even turned out to be good.

Smoked trout deviled eggs? I was suspicious, and then I was smitten. The egg yolk was blended with both a curry mayonnaise and trout smoked with hickory. The hickory registered more strongly than the trout. The dish worked.

Scallop mini burgers? These perpetuated the current downtown fascination with newfangled sliders and took it in a questionable direction. Dual suffocation by doughy bun and chili mayonnaise is not the destiny scallops deserve.

Another slider of sorts, made with pulled duck in a barbecue sauce, met a similar fate, the flavor of the flesh eclipsed by the condiments in which it swam - and sank.

But yellow fin tuna survived and even thrived. It was diced and mixed with scallions, capers, soy sauce and lemon juice, among other seasonings. Crab cakes were serviceable. Coconut shrimp quelled hunger without causing undue disappointment.

And isn't that what bar food is all about? And isn't the Pegu Club cool?

It's named for, and inspired by, a hangout for British colonial officers in Rangoon in the early 20th century.

It works an Asian decorative theme without overworking it. You can imagine you're in an exotic locale without ever losing your tether to Manhattan.

It has a cute additional gimmick: each table has four eyedroppers and four flavored liquids - lime, lemon, sugar and bitters - with which you can customize your cocktails.

And it's behind a door without any extravagant markings, up a flight of stairs, so it feels like a secret. Of course it isn't, and it wasn't. To get there, I followed a trail of excited murmurs. I didn't blaze it.

Edited by Sneakeater (log)
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Quite possibly the legal one, actually. I'm not familiar with the NYS liquor license laws, but I'm sure there's someone on these boards who is.

You're absolutely right that to discuss this intelligently, we have to get a handle on the legal definition (if any).

OTOH, I'm not too sure it's intelligent to be discussing this at all.

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I see seven paragraphs discussing the food.

but here's the thing...I wouldn't want to read it...I'd just be using its mere existence. I kind of doubt these hearings are that sophisticated.

here you've got a list of complaints from neighbors...here you've got the bar, um, restaurant proffering menus. now throw in -- our food was reviewed on ____________ by Frank Bruni, the official restaurant critic for the NY Times!

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The way you win jury trials is by assuming the jury isn't a bunch of morons.

Just pointing to the existence of a "Diner's Journal" article, without going into its content, doesn't prove a thing. Because anyone with a brain could realize that Bruni can write about bars as well as restaurants.* Indeed, the article itself might make clear, when you read it, that Bruni considers its subject a bar instead of a restaurant. As, in fact, this one does.

So referring to an article like this would be stupid. If you mention it, you have to assume that someone might be interested enough to read it. Anyone can find it on the Times's website (it isn't even one of the articles that cost money to retrieve). And once anyone looked it up and saw what it actually said, your and your client's credibility would be shot. No one would believe you about ANYTHING anymore.

______________________________________________________

* The mere fact that a bar serves food can't be enough to turn it into a restaurant, or else they wouldn't be having this dispute.

Edited by Sneakeater (log)
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I don't know. how do these hearings work? I don't think either of us knows. maybe the fact that you actually serve relatively sophisticated food and actually have it on premises (unlike a certain bar that got a restaurant liquor license on the basis of a fictional menu that they never actually served) would be good enough.

all that I know is that they apparently don't usually even have attorneys at these hearings.

edit: after all, it is entitled "Diner's Journal" not "My Night Out on the Town"

Edited by Nathan (log)
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Quite possibly the legal one, actually. I'm not familiar with the NYS liquor license laws, but I'm sure there's someone on these boards who is.

You're absolutely right that to discuss this intelligently, we have to get a handle on the legal definition (if any).

OTOH, I'm not too sure it's intelligent to be discussing this at all.

Point taken.

All I can say is that I feel quite fortunate to have D&Co in my neighborhood, and I hope it sticks around!

Mayur Subbarao, aka "Mayur"
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I think that the quality of food (or the amount of press that the food receives) is irrelevant. The board is interested in numbers. They are going to look at the establishment's sales and compare the percentage of revenue from food as opposed to liquor/alcohol. And basically, say goodbye to Death & Co.

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I think that the quality of food (or the amount of press that the food receives) is irrelevant.  The board is interested in numbers.  They are going to look at the establishment's sales and compare the percentage of revenue from food as opposed to liquor/alcohol.  And basically, say goodbye to Death & Co.

in a partially-cash based business...that's very massageable...

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I think that the quality of food (or the amount of press that the food receives) is irrelevant.  The board is interested in numbers.  They are going to look at the establishment's sales and compare the percentage of revenue from food as opposed to liquor/alcohol.  And basically, say goodbye to Death & Co.

in a partially-cash based business...that's very massageable...

Nobody knows that more than me, but their food and liquor supplies are required to release their records as well. And with the amount of supply-side audits that have been going on lately, I don't think their is going to be as much fudging as usual!

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I think that the quality of food (or the amount of press that the food receives) is irrelevant.  The board is interested in numbers.  They are going to look at the establishment's sales and compare the percentage of revenue from food as opposed to liquor/alcohol.  And basically, say goodbye to Death & Co.

in a partially-cash based business...that's very massageable...

Nobody knows that more than me, but their food and liquor supplies are required to release their records as well. And with the amount of supply-side audits that have been going on lately, I don't think their is going to be as much fudging as usual!

well, they've asserted that 45-50% of their receipts are from food. if they can prove that ..... one would think it would be a strong argument in their favor (I suspect that many high end restaurants are at less than that due to wine revenues)

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I think that the quality of food (or the amount of press that the food receives) is irrelevant.  The board is interested in numbers.  They are going to look at the establishment's sales and compare the percentage of revenue from food as opposed to liquor/alcohol.  And basically, say goodbye to Death & Co.

in a partially-cash based business...that's very massageable...

Nobody knows that more than me, but their food and liquor supplies are required to release their records as well. And with the amount of supply-side audits that have been going on lately, I don't think their is going to be as much fudging as usual!

well, they've asserted that 45-50% of their receipts are from food. if they can prove that ..... one would think it would be a strong argument in their favor (I suspect that many high end restaurants are at less than that due to wine revenues)

If they can prove 45-50% they should be fine...

Edited by Shellygirl (log)
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Guys (and gals),

I am worried this topic is straying too far off topic, especially with the recent posts. I would encourage everyone that if you have a opinion one way or another (especially if you are in CB3) to come voice it at the hearing on the 27th.

While I understand people want to discuss various scenarios here, there is a point where it becomes too much.

John

John Deragon

foodblog 1 / 2

--

I feel sorry for people that don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day -- Dean Martin

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So after a very long and tedious CB meeting in which 5 people for the renewal of Death and Company and 5 people against the renewal the board voted by close to a 2-1 margin in favor not to support the renewal of the liquor license for D&C.

What this means is that they will not have the support of the CB3 board in their renewal efforts. How much this will impact the final result is to be determined. The opponents of D&C presented some facts that were suspicious, mainly the reports of tremendous bass from the music, people congregating outside at all hours of the morning, people vomiting on the street, etc.

While the have overcome the issue of the distance of them from the synagogue by having to letters from architects stating the distance is 202.6 feet, a representative of the synagogue presented his case that he paced off 133 feet which seemed to have more impact unfortunately with the board then the letters of the licensed architects.

The next step will likely involve lawyers and letters and all sorts of hurdles to overcome. I am not sure what this means for the short term health of their business as their license is expiring very soon. If they can continue to operate in the interim while the renewal is pending is an open question.

I will try to get some more details from the owners tomorrow and report back.

John Deragon

foodblog 1 / 2

--

I feel sorry for people that don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day -- Dean Martin

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They were closed last night because everyone was at the hearing. I am not sure when their license expires, but it is very soon from what I heard.

Eater also has some more detailed coverage of the event here.

At a meeting of Community Board 3 last night, CB3 passed a resolution to deny the renewal of Death & Co.'s liquor license, 26-7 in favor of said resolution, with four abstentions. The resolution, potentially crushing if the SLA concurs with the community board's analysis, is as follows:

Vote: To deny the renewal of the full on-premise liquor license for Death & Co., 433 East 6th Street, because

1) there have been persistent resident complaints regarding noise, beginning while this establishment was under construction and now extending into its operation,

2) there has been improper garbage disposal from this establishment resulting in spillage on the street and commercial garbage left in residential bins,

3) the licensee has failed to make adequate plans for crowd control and noise,

4) the method of operation is inconsistent with the licensee's original alteratino application in that it is apparently now operating as a prohibition-style lounge with incidental food service while it averred that it would be serving small plates as a restaurant and,

5) this establishment appears to be within 500 feet of eleven (11) full on-premise licensed establishments. Consequently, the renewal of this license is not in the public interest.

John Deragon

foodblog 1 / 2

--

I feel sorry for people that don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day -- Dean Martin

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