By A. Campbell
In a unanimous vote last week, Community Board 7 rejected an application from the West End Lounge for a change of its corporate name and operating procedures. After hearing from supporters and opponents of the lounge at 955 West End Avenue (West 107th Street) in October and conducting further research into resident complaints, the board also requested that the State Liquor Authority (SLA) strictly enforce the lounge’s rules of operation. Those rules mandate that it is not allowed to serve alcohol after midnight.
The West End Lounge has recently been the subject of heated debate between enthusiastic patrons and those living in or near the residential building that also houses the lounge.
In October, more than 65 people showed up at a community board meeting to speak about the lounge’s impact. Supporters and patrons describe it as a lively, entertaining, and moderately-priced hangout. Some residents bemoan what they say are loud parties and performances which can continue well past midnight; the smell of cigarette smoke wafting from the lounge into their apartments; the lack of enough security; and growing amounts of trash and debris strewn in the building’s stairwells.
Neither side in the debate spoke at the meeting last week, but the community board reviewed materials, including a list of complaints against the establishment, at the meeting.
Under current regulations, the West End Lounge is licensed to operate as a bookstore where coffee, beverages, and alcohol can be served until midnight and no live music is permitted. The lounge’s owners submitted a request to update its SLA documentation, which would allow alcohol to be served and live music, shows, karaoke, DJs, jukebox, and acoustic performances to continue until 4 a.m. The lounge’s upcoming events page advertises live singing competitions, drag shows, DJs, and talent showcases.
“We’re getting constant complaints,” said Roberta Semer, Chair of the Manhattan Community Board 7. “If you look at 311 call reports, there are huge complaints from that section. It’s a major problem and [the West End Lounge is] in violation of what they are allowed to do.” West End Lounge management did not respond to requests for comment from West Side Rag.
Asked what recourse residents have regarding their ongoing frustration, Ms. Semer recommended they speak to the SLA and continue reporting issues to NYPD and local elected officials.
Image via Google Streetview.