Bar’s Fans and Opponents Face Off at Neighborhood Meeting


An event this year at the West End. Photo by Doc Searls.

By Alex Israel

Neighbors have strong opinions about the West End Lounge at 955 West End Avenue (West 106th Street), and they showed up in force at a meeting last week to make their case.

The lounge was hoping to update its State Liquor Authority documentation – which currently allows it to operate as a bookstore where coffee, beverages, and alcohol can be served (strictly without live music) until midnight – to reflect their current operating practices, which include live music, shows, karaoke, DJ, jukebox, and acoustic performances until 4 a.m.

A large crowd showed up to provide testimony about West End Lounge.

More than 65 people showed up to speak for and against the paperwork change, prompting the committee to delay their vote until they could receive additional information from the community and various city agencies. Only around half of the attendees were given a chance to speak at the meeting.

Those against the application shared concerns with noise coming from inside and outside the building into the early hours of the morning, smoke from cigarettes wafting into their homes and a lack of enforcement or follow-up on their complaints to 311.

“It’s not a venue that belongs in a residential building,” said one community member who lives inside 955 West End Avenue.

“They have no respect for all the people that work and want a good night’s sleep,” said another local resident who has lived on the block for 48 years.

Those in favor commended the lounge for their diversity in programing, great customer service and overall dedication to fostering creative expression.

“To lose the West End Lounge would be to lose part of this neighborhood’s soul,” said one supporter.

“It reminds me of what New York City is supposed to be,” said another.

We reported on a similarly heated discussion around West End Lounge almost a year ago, when they appeared before the same committee requesting approval on an ownership transfer. At CB7’s request per a December 2017 resolution, the applicants withdrew their application for a corporate change, because the method of operation for the venue on paper did not match the operation in practice. The resolution also called for the SLA to enforce the current method of operation.

Upon request for a comment, manager John Forslund provided WSR with a statement by phone about the lounge’s new attempts to change that method of operation. “We’re trying to do what’s right here, and trying to get the documents updated,” he said.

As they deliberate, the committee requested that anyone who wishes to share testimony regarding West End Lounge submit their comments directly to the CB7 email at office@cb7.org.

FOOD, NEWS | 12 comments | permalink
    1. Kathleen says:

      SO GLAD that this bar is not in my ‘hood. UGH!!!! It certainly doesn’t belong in a residential area…..take it to Broadway or close.

      • Jimbo says:

        +1000 Bar goers smoke on my friends stoop. Every day she has to come and go through a cloud of smoke. Horrible. No bars on WEA. Broadway and Amsterdam is a sea of unrented locations! Ridiculous.

      • Sarah says:

        Well, we can certainly tell this is not your “hood,” Kathleen, because it’s actually located right where West End dead-ends into Broadway. Weird of you to be hating on a bar that’s not near you.

    2. V says:

      The West End Lounge is a fantastic place. If neighbors want to live in an area with no noise, perhaps they should move to Iowa. Insane! The is NYC! The reason most live here is for entertainment. These neighbors are racists and bigots! Do we want YET ANOTHER empty storefront in Morningside Heights?

      • UWS Joe says:

        First off, West Side lounge isn’t in morningside heights.

        Second, no one is moving to Iowa.

        Third, there’s nothing racist or bigoted (does anyone know what means anymore?) about not wanting constant group fights, and ridiculously loud music past midnight in their neighborhood.

        • Marlon_Wayans_sons_friend says:

          Those damn opera singers, poets, journalists, politicians and drag queens… they’re always breaking out in fist fights.

          Or are you referring to the black performers come to the bar? Because it ain’t a coincidence that these complaints coincide with the only bar in a 20 block radius with a black clientele.

    3. Reed says:

      The residents west of Broadway have complained about so many absurd issues that come down to the idea that they want to ‘protect’ their community. And what does this mean?
      Years ago they asked the community groups east of Broadway to work with them to stop KFC from opening at Broadway and West 106 Street. Why…..chicken bones on the sidewalk and outsiders using Strauss Park. Understandably we could not support their goal. Another group wanted to close off the northern end of West End Avenue. Why…they didn’t want people north of West 110 Street to come into their area. They complained about the truck traffic even though there was limited such traffic. There is a pattern of behavior in this community that seems to indicate that many of the residents want to keep their neighborhood pristine. I question the intentions and motivations of the residents of the West End community.

      • Rob says:

        What’s absurd about this complaint? Unless you don’t think the community has a right to be heard. Which I hope isn’t the case. Some complaints will be kookier than others, sure. This is the UWS. But a bar straddling a residential area with disrespectful patrons, than keep residents up at night, sounds about as straight-down-the-middle as they come.

    4. Always an UWS gal says:

      The West End Lounge is in an odd location – in the basement of a residential building on the corner of 107th Street where Broadway and West End Ave cross. It straddles both a commercial and residential area.

    5. Sean says:

      Everyone knows that the UWS really is the suburbs in every sense.

    6. sp says:

      I bought an eightball of shitty cocaine in the bathroom there once, about ten years ago. The place is a little bit of the LES on the UWS. I have mixed feelings about it. On one hand, places like this are endangered species amid a rising tide of premium mediocre bland corporate sameness, on the other, if I lived in or around that building I’d want to nuke them too…

    7. Jon says:

      I support them 100%, but also hope that they can take some extra steps to be considerate neighbors (upgrade sound proofing, remind patrons that there are neighbors to be considered.)

      Commercial establishments, especially nighttime establishments, on side streets really is what gives NYC so much of its interesting character.