The last night at Bourbon Street in April. Can its replacement bring the good times back?

By Carol Tannenhauser

“You have to earn the four a.m. hour in this neighborhood,” Michele Parker half-jokingly told Robert Gelardi, the owner of 407 Social, a new bar slated to take the place of the recently closed Bourbon Street Bar & Grille, at 407 Amsterdam Avenue (West 79th Steet).

Parker is the co-chair, with George Zeppenfeldt-Cestero, of Community Board 7’s Business & Consumer Issues Committee, which met Wednesday night to consider applications for state liquor licenses and sidewalk cafes.

Gelardi, who has run a bar in the West Village for 24 years, was seeking a license for 407 Social, his first foray into the Upper West Side.

The full community board will vote on his and other applications on October 3rd, influenced greatly by the Committee’s recommendations.

Gelardi was hoping to stay open until 4 a.m., seven days a week, like several of his “direct competitors,” but compromised on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, and two a.m. on other days. He also readily agreed to soundproof the bar, a project left unfinished by Bourbon Street; in fact, he made the pledge to two guys who live right above the bar, one of whom explained that they were at the meeting because “a neighbor knocked on our door and said, ‘You gotta go to a hearing.’” Gelardi assured them that the jukebox – installed “so customers can choose what they want to hear” – won’t be playing music meant to “blow the roof off the place, more like Neil Young,” he said.

The application was approved and 407 Social should open by December, in time for the holidays. (See more photos of the last night at Bourbon Street here.)

Approval for a liquor license was also awarded to Thai 72, a new Thai restaurant planning to open in early November, at 128 West 72nd Street (Columbus Avenue), where the Lime Leaf restaurant used to be. The owner, too, is a seasoned operator, with 15-years of experience running restaurants in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens.

“You’re gonna have to pull it back to nine feet,” Parker instructed the representative from Gina La Fornarina/Gina Mexicana, at 2028-2030 Broadway (West 69th – 70th Streets), when the Committee turned its attention to applications for new unenclosed sidewalk cafes. “That’s the rule,” said Zeppenfeldt-Cestero. “It’s a matter of fairness.” Gina’s application was approved with the stipulation that new plans reflecting the downsizing be submitted by the October 3rd full-board meeting.

“Step up to the plate, sir,” said Parker to the owner of Jumbo Bagel, at 472 Columbus Avenue (West 82nd – 83rd Streets), where Ricky’s used to be. His application for a new, unenclosed sidewalk café sailed through.

Renewals of existing unenclosed sidewalk cafes started with a no show – Playa Betty’s – then moved to a community concern, voiced by a woman with the most elegant English accent, regarding The Mermaid Inn, at 570 Amsterdam Avenue (West 87th – 88th Streets). It seems that the Inn is moving bins of garbage down West 88th Street at ungodly hours, creating terrible wheel noises, clanging gates, and sleepless neighbors. Mermaid’s representative assured her that he would look into it and she thanked him and the committee profusely. The sidewalk café was approved with the stipulation that the issue be addressed.

Earth Café, at 2580 Broadway, was approved for renewal of its unenclosed sidewalk café in record time.

Finally, Hi-Life Bar and Grill, at 477 Amsterdam Avenue (West 82 – 83rd, was approved for renewal of an enclosed sidewalk café, with one caveat: “Make sure your umbrellas don’t extend over nine feet,” a committee member said. “There are a lot of tall people in the neighborhood,” a non-committee board member added. “What happened to the Upper West Side? This used to be a short neighborhood.”

Top photo by Jeff French Segall. Bottom photo by Carol Tannenhauser.

FOOD, NEWS, OPEN/CLOSED | 14 comments | permalink
    1. geoff says:

      “…(we) won’t be playing music meant to “blow the roof off the place, more like Neil Young,” he said.” Was 407’s Gelardi being disingenuous or cynical? Maybe the Community Board members are too young to know about Neil Young’s reputation. That description is laughable to those who know anything about Young for that is exactly what Young does and likes to do—blow the roof off. It’s part of his legend.

      • GG says:

        Yup, that’s exactly what I was thinking. This guy has obviously never heard the extended live version of Down by the River. Neil Rocks!! loud and grungy, just like I like it. In fact, he is recognized as the godfather of grunge by Pearl Jam and those alt rock kids of the 90’s. They toured together if I’m not mistaken.

        Anyway, yeah, it’s definitely not all acoustic guitar with harmonica and some nice folksy singing.

        I will say this though, if they are going to be playing Neil Young (and other tunes like that) I might be more inclined to stop in there for a drink one night.

        I still miss Amsterdam’s, which was right across the street from there back in the 80’s and 90’s. Great place, great food and always amazing music.

        • Paul RL says:

          Amsterdam’s! Great joint. There was one downtown as well. Do you (or anyone else here) remember a little coffee shop named Cooper’s, on the corner of Columbus & 83rd? Great little place I used to go to when I lived on West 82nd in the late 80’s.

      • Patty says:

        So true! 👍

      • Lorraine Varjabedian says:

        Best comments ever! 😀 Definitely more inclined to go there if this is the kind of stuff they’ll have.

    2. OhHonestly says:

      “What happened to the Upper West Side? This used to be a short neighborhood.”

      I would like to shake that non-committee member’s hand. Glad to know there’s still humor in the UWS.

    3. Mark says:

      Will the UWS ever realize and deal with the harm caused by the almost continuous line-up of bars on Amsterdam in the 80’s?

      Late night music, drunk and loud patrons, garbage, etc.

      It’s about time this was stopped.

      • Ish Kabibble says:

        Is that a joke? Amsterdam Ave is the last place in the neighborhood where you can get a drink without having to give blood first. Seems the only ‘mom and pop’ places that can afford to run on the UWS is the bars and restaurants on Amsterdam.

      • GG says:

        I kinda think this comment is a joke or satire or whatever but just in case you are serious….WHAT?!:)

        This is the kind of attitude that just drives me crazy. It’s NIMBY on steroids. Oh, I don’t like it so instead of leaving I will try to change the whole neighborhood into what I want. Sound familiar, Dr. Goodman?:)

        Even in cases of new arrivals, like what is happening with so much gentrification all over the city. Harlem, Brooklyn & Queens, “SoBro” etc.

        Respect your neighborhoods people! and be thankful for them. You live in NYC!! You’re a winner!

        And for you newcomers…just try to go with the flow…mind your own business, watch your back and enjoy the ride. You made it.

      • V says:

        Don’t live in NYC then!

      • Ann says:

        I’ve been here 20 years and Amsterdam in the 80s has always been one bar after another… I don’t think that’s going to change anytime soon. Might be a case of not living above a bunch of bars instead of asking that all the bars be closed.

    4. Sean says:

      The Days of Wine and Roses

    5. Chase says:

      Amsterdam 80s is kinda lame/kids stuff in my book but I’ll give them credit as the only place to really ‘get down’ on the upper west side. I’d rather have it than lose it for sure. It’s all there is and we need something.
      If you can’t handle that you need to get out of NYC cause ur old/out of touch.

      • Independent says:

        If you can’t handle that you need to get out of NYC cause ur old/out of touch.

        So, the City is not for anyone considered “old”, however you define that? Lovely attitude you’ve got there.