Dutch Kills and PKNY partner Richard Boccato’s bid to serve tiki drinks at a new bar called Asphalt Jungle in the old Mercadito Cantina space on Avenue B hit a significant road block at last night’s CB3 SLA committee hearing after residents complained that the neighborhood is already oversaturated with watering holes. "I think if you want to drink on Avenue B, we’re kind of covered," said Jean-Paul Buthier, the owner of vintage shop Rue St Denis Clothier Ltd. "Maybe we need more AA meetings."
Seemingly stung by the Frenchman’s comment, Boccato replied that he and his partner Ian Present had roots in the East Village and were trying to create a safe and reputable establishment. "We’re not carpetbaggers," he said, adding, "with all due respect, sir, your accent doesn’t sound like a Native New Yorker." The barman’s zinger elicited groans and protests from spectators, and even resulted in calls from committee chair Alexandra Militano for attendees to settle down.
While Boccato had some support from locals — including one who noted his work with a youth program — the committee ultimately voted to deny his application by a majority of eight votes, with two members abstaining and one declining to vote after Militano noted that Boccatto’s PKNY on Essex Street had been hit with violations from the State Liquor Authority for allegedly serving minors and hiring an unlicensed security guard. Rumors now abound that the bar is closing permanently. Grub Street asked Boccato if he would be closing the Essex Street joint on July 31 when his lease expired, and he declined to comment.
In contrast, the committee approved Golden Cadillac, the cocktail bar and restaurant set to replace Boca Chica. Though Grub Street has been informed that chef Fran Derby was brought on as a consultant and will not in fact be in the kitchen, managing partner Gregory Boehm said the establishment will serve a "full menu" and that it may be open as soon as summer or early fall.
Earlier: Richard Boccato Reportedly Opening Asphalt Jungle in the East Village
Earlier: Giuseppe Gonzalez, James Tune, and Fran Derby Opening Golden Cadillac on First Avenue [Updated]