La Goulue Gets New Location, New SLA Problems

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Photo: Glenn Collins/The New York Times

After losing its Madison Avenue lease, longtime Upper East Side watering hole La Goulue closed this summer — but the highly social restaurant has found a new location. The restaurant will move to 20 East 63rd Street, and owners Jean deNoyer and Hassan El Garrahy plan to reopen this spring. Alas, there's one problem: The new location is directly across from the Edmond J. Safra Synagogue at 11 East 63rd Street, and State Liquor Authority Laws expressly forbid a restaurant to serve alcohol within two hundred feet of a house of worship.

Neighbors on the block have been distributing flyers and are planning to speak out against La Goulue receiving its license at a community board meeting on December 16th at the New York Blood Center building. Nevertheless, El Garrahy maintains that "There is no problem with our license." Well, not exactly. "They can serve wine and beer, but not liquor — the place is just 92 feet away,’’ maintains SLA lawyer Stacey Weiss. We're still awaiting comment from La Goulue's lawyer; in the meantime, the synagogue’s rabbi, Elie Abadie, says they are not taking a position yet. But he couldn’t resist a little humor: “If it were kosher, it would be okay."