The proposal from Todd Patrick and Two Boots owner Phil Hartman to turn the former Mo Pitkin's space into a live-performance venue for "new classical music" and jazz (with Mexican food!) once again proved so controversial that the Community Board 3 state liquor licensing committee voted this week to turn over his application to the the full board meeting June 28 for further consideration. The committee had rejected Hartman's bid in March for a liquor license; two motions last night (one to reject, another to accept with numerous stipulations) failed. At least 30 residents, past and present, showed up at the Monday-night meeting on East 5th Street with strongly conflicting views on whether Hartman's Southern-style Piney Woods restaurant, bar, and theater space would be beneficial in a neighborhood already oversaturated with nightlife joints. "This is a wolf in sheep's clothing," opined one elderly gent, contending that the proposed project would be mainly a bar "because that's where the money is."
CB3 district manager Susan Stetzer was another opponent. She said Hartman's project, on 34 Avenue A, would create congestion. "We can't have 150 people out at four in the morning," she said. She suggested that Hartman and his partner, music producer Todd Patrick, scout out alternative locations "in the Bowery." But other East Village residents, many of them musicians, praised Hartman as a "musical curator with integrity" who would bring the neighborhood back to its roots as a haven for culture and experimentation, noting its character had been eroded by gentrification and "fraternity-boy bars."