Little Branch and Milk & Honey owner Sasha Petraske may have moved into his East Village bachelor pad a week ago, but last night the community board’s SLA committee said not-so-fast to his plan to turn the two floors below it (formerly Jack’s Luxury Oyster) into a wine and Belgian beer bar called the Mighty Ocelot. (That name, previously reported here, may now change since cat-loving Sasha discovered the bar next door is called Leopard Lounge). Not even Petraske’s two adorable character witnesses — his mother and the mother of his cheese guy, T.J. Segal of Artisanal and Picholine — could save him from the wrath of block association members armed with a petition signed by over 140 noise-fearing neighbors.
Though Petraske, for his part, signed a document vowing to operate the Ocelot as a café during the day (it’ll serve pastries, sandwiches, and salads), he refused to agree to close before midnight, saying it would prevent him from making rent on the former carriage house. “I’m almost bankrupt,” said the $15-cocktail pusher. “I’ll happily show you my taxes.” Some doubted that he’d actually be living in the room above his bar (meaning he wouldn’t be around to hear the noise it caused), but Petraske insisted the ten-by-six digs were twice the size of his previous apartment: “I will happily have my room open to surprise inspections.”
The community board had nothing but praise for Petraske. “He is probably the only owner in nine years who has run [his bar] according to his representations,” said committee chair Alexandra Militano, going on to commend him for receiving no complaints in nine years and stopping just short of telling him he makes a mean gin fizz. But even when presented with a letter of support signed by Milk and Honey’s upstairs neighbor Singh Birdsong, the residents of East 5th Street weren’t having it. “We don’t want another bar!” cried one. (“Will you come to my café?” Petraske demurred). In the end, the board voted to recommend that the SLA reject the application. And how could they not? At one point, Petraske’s noise-hating opponents grew so boisterous that they had to be reminded that people were trying to sleep in the elder-care facility upstairs. —Daniel Maurer