Restaurant Updates: Big Daddy’s Big Plans, Guacamole Taqueria Faces the Music

By Alex Israel

A funky diner wants to shake things up, a new restaurant remains unconfirmed, and a Mexican restaurant hit another snag during the first meeting of the year for Community Board 7’s Business & Consumer Issues Committee.

Big Daddy’s (2454 Broadway at West 91st Street) shared plans to change up their concept in a new application for a new two-year liquor license. While ownership will stay the same, the new concept will be “more sophisticated” than the current diner-style vibe, featuring a totally different menu with Eastern Mediterranean flair. The restaurant, whose new name is still up in the air, will serve lunch and dinner as well as have a bar. The application was approved unanimously by the committee.

A representative from Good Enough To Eat, who attended the meeting to receive approval on an enclosed sidewalk café renewal, stayed mum when asked about the new restaurant in the works next door at 522 Columbus Ave. “I cannot confirm or deny,” he said coyly when asked by a committee member about rumors of a Thai restaurant opening up in the former home of Zen Taco—but did hint that we should know something by February.

A photo on Guacamole Taqueria’s Google listing from June 2018 shows the controversial back patio.

An application for a method of operation change for Guacamole Taqueria (768 Amsterdam at West 98th Street) caused a stir at the meeting, after being listed on the agenda for the fourth consecutive month. Several members of the community showed up to share unanimous testimony against the business’ proposal to add karaoke, DJ, and live Mariachi music to their allowed forms of entertainment.

Neighbors in surrounding buildings pointed to regular “loud, disruptive” noise emanating from a patio area in the back of the restaurant past midnight, even after committee stipulation in December 2018 that they must cease serving food and drink in this area. Some also claimed that they had already heard live music, violating the current method of operation, which allows for recorded music only (corroborated by advertisements on their Instagram account for weekly Karaoke and DJ nights as early as October 2018).

People who live at 768 Amsterdam were also concerned about the sound and “intense bass” that they can hear inside their apartments. A resident who lives in an apartment directly above said “the quality of living has plummeted” since it opened in September 2017. His husband added that with any more opportunities for noise, “the apartment is going to be totally uninhabitable.” Another tenant, whose lease is up in February, said he would move out if the application was granted.

Everyone who spoke said that despite regular efforts to communicate with management, they were either ignored or told there was nothing that could be done.

The owner, through translation by committee co-chairs Linda Alexander and Christian Cordova, denied that the noise complaints were a persistent issue. He said that after prior feedback from the committee in December, he invested $15,000 in acoustical foam that was installed in the ceiling of the entire establishment, which he thought would stop the people who he felt were “harassing” his business. He added that the music is normally kept low, and the restaurant has never been open past 1 A.M. He also said the “big, family atmosphere” at the restaurant is a positive thing, and expressed hesitation toward quieting customers down.

The committee ultimately voted again to disapprove the application, citing the business’ ongoing breach of the current method of operation, and their apparent unresponsiveness to the community’s concerns. The restaurant plans to hire an independent engineer to prove that its newly installed method of sound-proofing effectively solves any noise issue, and will bring this forward in a new application.

Following the Guacamole Taqueria testimony, an application to extend the hours of operation was approved quickly and unanimously for Dark Bullet Sake and Oyster Bar (154 West 72nd Street between Broadway and Columbus). Visitors should soon be able to shoot their sake and oysters until as late as 2 A.M. every day of the week.

One new application and a number of renewals for sidewalk cafés also passed unanimously, including:

All committee resolutions will be up for a vote during the next full board meeting on February 5, 2019. Liquor license applications will also need to be reviewed by the State Liquor Authority (SLA) for final approval.

Read our prior stories on liquor licenses here.

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

      Too bad about Big Daddy’s – the menu is perfect for families and was one of our go-to spots, despite very hit or miss service – we have had some truly awful experiences there. Regardless, I think it filled an important need in the neighborhood.

    2. sam says:

      someone needs to explain to me how soundproofing the entire interior of guacamole taqueria is going to prevent sound traveling from the…outdoor patio to the upstairs residents.

      Maybe I’m missing something.

    3. Kathleen says:

      I wonder if Big Daddy’s will survive this transformation. Right now it’s pretty unique, but it will become like so many other restaurants in the area. We don’t lack middle eastern food on the UWS, not that we lack diners either. It will be interesting to see what happens.

    4. Stuart says:

      Big Daddy’s – please do not change. This is our family’s special occasion restaurant, and we live just outside their delivery area. I just hope that their other locations will not follow suit – it will be a schlep to travel, but we still will have options.

      • suck it says:

        big daddys is barely a step up from mcdonalds. thats your families go to spot? i feel sorry for you people

    5. Kenneth says:

      “…A representative from Good Enough To Eat, who attended the meeting to receive approval on an enclosed sidewalk café renewal…,”

      Their existing sidewalk cafe is unenclosed I thought.

    6. Otto says:

      Big Daddy’s service may be the worst in Manhattan — if not the world. I wish them well, but the quote “ownership will stay the same” worries me.

    7. Deena Harris, M.D. says:

      It is a great local restaurant and happy hour and the neighborhood can only benefit. Leave them alone

    8. Cyrus says:

      Big Daddy’s can change all they want as long as they keep tater tots on the menu. What a guilty pleasure.

    9. Michael M says:

      “Tots” were never a good idea in NYC

    10. wombatNYC says:

      2 words : Potato Tots

    11. Mark Moore says:

      Literally anything would be “more sophisticated” than Big Daddy’s is now.

    12. ST says:

      The residents above Guacamole Taqueria have my deepest sympathy. There is no muffling those bass tones since low-tone vibrations travel the farthest. They can be felt right in a person’s body. Witness how cars blasting rhythmic bass penetrate everyone’s apartment.
      Permanent ongoing bass lines is torture. Everyone in NYC is entitled to the quiet enjoyment of their apartment.

    13. Westside Gal says:

      I thought Guacamole Taqueria was great, until my friend was served a salad with a blue, bloody bandaid. The restaurant team mishandled the situation. The waitress lied about not knowing the manager’s or owner’s name. Our group has written reviews about the incident on Yelp and Google and all have been removed. Truly disappointed in this establishment. Shut it down, they don’t care about their customers or neighborhood.