You Can Still Get Drunk At Freemans

by BILLY GRAY · May 18, 2010

    Freemans owner Taavo Somer and plaid-clad friends went in front of the Lower East Side's community board to argue for the restaurant's liquor license renewal last night. And to the delight of everyone but a handful of Freemans' neighbors, they won preliminary approval!

    The Freemans crew was spared an hours-long slog through other neighborhood application defenses and appeared first on the agenda. Scrawny tattooed arms led down to hands clasped in contrition as management made its case against the predicable roster of crusty neighbors made crustier by sleepless nights (and Sunday afternoons, apparently) caused by Freemans' dinner and brunch crowds.

    Here's how it went:

    The Neighbor's Complaints:

    Loud noise in the acoustically- and cell phone-reception-challenged alley.

    No hired security to patrol the alley during brunch hours. (Freemans had met demands for security during peak dinner and late night hours.)

    Lack of communication between staff, security and neighbors.

    Community Board 3 is "an embarrassment" for approving Freemans' previous two expansions requests.

    Taavo's Rebuttal:

    Requiring the restaurant to be "as quiet as a church mouse 24/7 is unreasonable."

    Has invited neighbors to meetings to which they declined to show up.

    Neighbors have phone and email information for management, staff and outside security guards.

    The Board's Only Pleasant Member And Voice Of Reason:

    Humans make noise. Living in a city, particularly New York City, particularly above a mixed-use alley in New York City, will lead to hearing it. You can't expect round the clock silence above an alley containing four businesses.

    A No Loitering sign is unrealistic, seeing as how restaurant customers can't avoid walking down the alley to enter the restaurant by arriving via "zip line."

    The Board's Solution:

    Freemans expansion and liquor license renewal will be approved provided it deploys a "designated outdoor person" to shush diners who dare step outside and speak during brunch. A sign will prohibit cell phone usage in the alley. The board reluctantly passed the No Loitering amendment.

    Freemans will organize a monthly meeting with neighbors that will last no longer than 30 minutes,  about 15 hours shorter than CB3's monthly shouting matches.

    Photo 2 via NYTimes