A history of State Liquor Authority censures and its association with the double homicide of two patrons in 2010 has long clouded public perception of flatiron club Roam, but if last night’s CB5 Manhattan’s Public Safety & Quality of Life committee meeting was any indication, things are beginning to turn around for the spruced-up two-level spot at 5 East 19th Street.
The committee voted to renew Roam’s liquor license. “We like you,” committee chairman Nicholas Athanail even told Michael Restrepo, the club’s new major equity owner, at one point. When the black-clad Restrepo, who described himself as an investor, said that after thirteen months in the business he might want to “buy another bar,” Athanail smiled and said, “We can give you a list.”
The committee’s cheery welcome and vote to recommend approval of Roam’s application to sell booze is in marked contrast to Community Board 5’s previous efforts in 2010 and 2011 to revoke its license after it was hit with fines for operational violations. Complaints — encompassing noise, fighting, stabbings, and unauthorized renovations — have persisted, but the SLA approved Roam’s application for a corporate change, signifying a new chapter for the troubled space.
Joe Bondi, who serves as president of the condo owner’s association in the building opposite the club, represented the only opposition last night. “All is not goodness here,” he said dryly, adding that on some nights he had seen “large crowds gather outside” the club and spill out into the street. Before the meeting ended, Bondi said he may return for next month’s full board meeting with more information about neighbors’ complaints.
Restrepo told Grub Street that Roam is now open just two nights a week and has been serving only private parties. “We’ve been following all the stipulations,” he said, noting that an earlier attempt to turn the two-bar space into a fin-de-siècle establishment called Boudoir had not worked out.
Earlier: Dangerous Club Roam Will Likely Reopen