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Community Board 6 Rejects Kemistry Lounge’s Liquor License Application

At the end of a long public hearing, CB6’s liquor license committee rejected the upscale bar/lounge’s application.

For now, Prospect Place will have its peace and quiet.

On Monday night, Community Board 6’s liquor license committee voted to reject Kemistry Lounge’s liquor license application, with a final vote of 12 in favor to reject, zero opposed and 2 abstentions.

Kemistry Lounge at 260 Flatbush Avenue, which is not open and still under construction, is located between Prospect Place and St Marks Avenue and plans to be a 225-person upscale lounge with bottle service at tables, a private party room with a dance floor in the basement and live music and DJs.

But the aspect that the most was the fact that the establishment runs from Flatbush Avenue to Prospect Place and has three large plate glass windows and an exit on to the residential street. 

The vote on whether to recommend that the State Liquor Authority grants Kemistry Lounge a liquor license or not came at the end of a heated public comment period where about 50 Prospect Place residents, unified under the moniker Prospect Place Neighbors, voiced their belief that their residential street is not the right location for a “nightclub.”

“Kemistry Lounge would be the largest nightclub in central Brooklyn with a capacity of 225 people on two floors with live performances, DJs, a full bar and dancing,” Andy Ring said, a member of Prospect Place Neighbors (PPN). “Also, Kemistry Lounge would be the first establishment doing hostess served hard-alcohol bottle service in the area, and only the second in all of Brooklyn.”

Christine Guerra, who also lives on the small residential street, said that Kemistry Lounge’s plan to have bottle service is unacceptable.

“There are 15 clubs in the city that offer bottle service and one is here on Atlantic Avenue,” Guerra said. She believes that bottle service creates a dangerous binge-drinking atmosphere where patrons pour themselves drinks, instead of trained bartenders who regulate patrons’ consumption.

“We are concerned about people drinking large quantities of alcohol before being dumped out of the club and on to our residential streets at 3:30 a.m.,” she said.

After , CB6 voted to table its application until Monday’s meeting with conditions that they meet with Prospect Place residents, mediated by the North Flatbush Business Improvement District, and promise to only use the Prospect Place exit for emergencies and change the plate glass windows to brick.  

The meeting took place on April 9 and PPN and Kemistry Lounge agreed on 12 stipulations, but disagreed on three: concrete hours of operation, bottle service and “bricking up” the Prospect Place windowed exit.

And ultimately, these three stipulations were why the community board rejected their application.

Near the end of the meeting, CB6 made a motion to approve the liquor license if Kemistry agreed to close at 12 a.m. from Sunday through Thursday and 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, with bottle service ending two hours before last call, and to change the Prospect Place exit.

But Kemistry’s co-owner, James Brown, said he wouldn’t be able to have a sustainable business without staying open as late as the other bars in the area.

“In terms of what is happening in the area with the Barclays Center, we are looking for a middle ground. We’re not looking to be open until 4 a.m. like Woodlands,” Brown said as the crowd hissed. He explained that he is willing to close around midnight Monday through Wednesday, 2 a.m. on Thursday and 3 a.m. on the weekends. “We are willing to adjust many of our hours to accommodate everybody.”

But, the exit on Prospect Place, Brown said, they cannot close off because they do not own the building. Brown said the landlord needs to keep it open because it will be the entrance to the condominiums that are being built on top of the lounge.

“We are going to do whatever it has to take to make sure it is as noninvasive and nonintrusive as possible,” Brown said, explaining that they will replace the plate glass with thick glass bricks to help keep in the noise.

Another adjustment Brown said they made to reduce noise pouring out onto Prospect Place was that the music will be set up on the Flatbush side of the lounge.

“There is going to be a lot less thump, thump, thumping than you guys think,” Brown said. “We are not a nightclub.”

But with bottle service, a 225-person capacity, live music and DJs, Lou Sones, a member of CB6, said it is hard to believe that Kemistry won’t at least be “like a club.”

“The bottom line is that it looks like a nightclub, it smells like a nightclub and I have a problem with having something like a nightclub in this area,” Sones said.

The community board was also concerned that if they approved Kemistry it would open the door to more establishments like it, in an area already saturated with bars like Sugarcane, Sharlene’s, Ocean’s 8 and Woodlands.

“It comes down to if we want to live on bar row or not. At some point there has to be a line drawn for we have too many bars, and I think we’ve reached that,” said Matt Silverman, who is on CB6’s liquor license committee. “I don’t see that there is a place for Kemistry at this location.”

After Kemistry’s application was rejected, the crowd rejoiced by clapping and cheering.

“I am impressed that the process worked and CB6 made the right decision for the neighborhood,” Radu Simon said, a member of PPN. “I just hope the decision is heard by the SLA and our opinions are taken into account.”

Now, Kemistry is free to go to the SLA without the community board’s recommendation. 

CB6’s liquor license committee chair, Gary Reilly would not comment about if Kemistry has a worse chance of being granted a liquor license without a recommendation or not.

“Ultimately, we are an advisory board and the SLA will take this issue and all its factors into consideration and make the final decision,” Reilly said.

After the vote Brown said he wasn’t happy about the outcome.

“I am surprised. We want to speak with the board again to make a better business plan and work it out,” Brown said, explaining that he is not sure if they are going to bring their application to the SLA right away or not. “I was definitely disappointed, but we will continue to work at it until we can come up with something that is amicable to both sides.”

Jae April 24, 2012 at 03:40 PM
When I want to go to a lounge, my first thought is not the Park Slop area and I would like it to stay that way. Generalization or not, "Nothing good happens after midnight" is absolutely appropriate here. Already I can see the debauchery that will ensue if this is allowed to happened. With the coming of the Barclays Center, profits are the only thing on the minds of these business owners looking to cash in on the partying associated with these types of venues. Can you imagine what that area will look like either after a big win or loss at one of these games. In this case, my imagination will suffice, I do not need to see it manifested. I have one question for Mr. Brown. How is a venue that offers bottle service, has an occupancy of 225, live music, DJ, and a side entrances not a bar?!
Prospect Place Neighbors April 24, 2012 at 03:53 PM
Some of us did stay but fair point. We understood there would likely be no public comment during the AY discussion, which turned out to be true. After almost 3 hours of standing (there were only seats for the CB itself, along with a handful of the community), some folks wanted/needed to call it a night and get back to their families. We are no less concerned with AY, than we are with Kemistry. Many of us were at and/or spoke at the CB6/CB2 hearing at the 78th and it's worth nothing that many of the folks who made that hearing were not there last night. But your point is valid - probably better if a few more us had stuck around.
GD April 24, 2012 at 04:08 PM
Where's the other bar with bottle service in Brooklyn?
Prospect Place Neighbors April 24, 2012 at 04:21 PM
Deity on Atlantic Avenue in Boerum Hill
GD April 24, 2012 at 08:19 PM
Interesting. I know that NY Perks on Smith hosts bottle service parties as well. Wonder how they get away with that?

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