Controversial UWS Lounge Loses Vote at Community Board Meeting

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.

NEWS | 26 comments | permalink
    1. James says:

      Excellent. The bore-ification of the UWS continues.

    2. Esther says:

      I used to live at 102 west end grow there love my neighbors but in to 4am is to much. It should be keep the way it is but why being Lough is a should be a place to read brink and have nices conversation. why the noise why into 4am that will change the mining of having a place for book and gathering not fir party.

    3. UWSJoe says:

      Thank goodness!

      Enough of the constant noise and fights!

      Thanks to all the people who are fighting against this disgusting “establishment”.

    4. MJK says:

      How sad… Another entertaining, reliable, innovative, affordable, friendly venue bites the dust at the hands of miserable, NIMBY UWSers! If you want peace & quiet, move to Iowa.

      • Shut your pretty mouth says:

        Living in NYC means you have to deal with a certain level of bullshit. But dealing with a loud, noxious bar right outside of your home, it’s reasonable to want to deal with it. I’m sure you find all of the unnecessary car honking another “feature” of the city.

      • Honest Abe says:

        Coralville is nice.

      • DenaliBoy says:

        Try living next to one of these places. I was a grad student at the U of Iowa, and living near a redneck bar or a ‘cool’ ‘hip’ UWS bar is about the same on a Friday/Sat night–it’s loud, fights, obnoxious behavior and a royal pain in the ass. Is it really unreasonable for neighbors to share their concerns-whether you rent or own we kinda have a right to get some sleep.

        • UWS_lifer says:

          With all due respect, why would someone rent or buy on top of a rowdy college bar then? Seems like poor judgement to me. I hear you though…there has to be some reasonable limitations.

          Anyway, what did you do your graduate work in at UofI? Corn Studies?:)

    5. Jeff Portnoy's Complaint says:

      From here on out, the only acceptable forms of recreation on the Upper West Side are as follows:

      1. Berating your doorman because the elevator is broken again. Bonus points if you use the phrase “this is unacceptable.”
      2. Gently swaying at the annual Steely Dan concert (Aja and Royal Scam nights only).
      3. Going to the same diner every morning—the staff hates your guts because you constantly comment on coffee temperatures and ask for new silverware.
      4. Causing a scene at a public reading or lecture. Bonus points for telling lengthy personal story, or giving your credentials as a reason for interrupting the event.
      5. Gossiping with a friend about how an acquaintance’s son became a podiatrist instead of a surgeon because podiatry isn’t so difficult. Not like cardiothoracic surgery, at least.
      6. Going to the podiatrist (probably because the soles of the loafers you bought in 1969 are worn through).
      7. Losing your temper at the dog park.
      8. Loudly lamenting the disappearance of all small businesses in the neighborhood.
      9. Calling to complain when the boxes you ordered from Jet are dented.
      10. Pretending to have read Philip Roth novels.
      11. Telling anyone who will listen about your activism at Columbia in 1973. Bonus points if that segues into a story about your time with the Sullivan Institute.
      12. Sending a hot tip to the West Side Rag about the deli guy at Zabar’s who had a hole in his glove. The Rag will continue to follow this story to its bitter end.

      By the way, this article was originally posted on Saturday, 1/5/2019, then quickly deleted. If memory serves, this piece also had a a different ending…one that was more negative about the bar and encouraged people to make 311 calls. I think it even included phone numbers. Good thing you rethought that.

      • J says:

        Interesting list.
        Perhaps you would consider a few others?
        Apparently OK to:

        Not pay your nanny because you decided not to go to your SoulCycle class.
        Let your kid scooter on a crowded sidewalk nearly hitting folks but then get mad when an older kid on a scooter nearly hits your kid.
        Let your dog pee on somebody else’s building, churches, in Lincoln Center, on schools – but not on the building you live in.
        Let your kid trash books at bookstores – but don’t buy the books although you have plenty of money and then leave the messed up books for some unsuspecting person to buy.
        Grow up in the suburbs, move to NYC – and then tell native New Yorkers they should move out of NYC….

        • Jeff Portnoy's Complaint says:

          No, all of the things are expressly forbidden by Community Board 7. They especially take bookstore related crimes seriously (don’t even remind me what happened to my copy of Jonathan Livingston Seagull in 1976). Any other types of frivolity must be cleared by CB7.

          On the other hand, have you thought of moving out of New York?

      • Sean says:

        The UWS is not hip. It is the opposite of hip. It is kids, screenwriters, hedge fund managers, trust funders, and a ton of people in rent stabilized apartment. It’s seniors and it’s the projects. It’s the crowd at Zabar’s. But it is definitely not a place for a club. That went bye bye in the 90s.

      • bb says:

        Haha #7… a woman once told me i wasn’t allowed to bring a tennis ball to the museum dog park because her dog may choke on it…

      • J says:

        Truly laughing out loud. This is so real, it kinda hurts.

    6. Rob G. says:

      Way to keep killing the neighborhood. Community Board 7 members should spend some time in other neighborhoods so they can understand what the word “vibrant” means.

    7. chrigid says:

      This is New York. Where are places like this supposed to go? How did we used to handle this?

    8. VA says:

      How many 311 calls are from the same fools? This is NYC, we have clubs. If noise bothers these residents so much, perhaps they should move to Florida or a nursing home. Yet ANOTHER empty storefront will be hitting Morningside Heights. Fools like the complainers are ruining NYC.

    9. CT says:

      Sounds like a lot of Gay Bashing from the residents upstairs AND board 7. Outrageous and disgusting that these residents are allowed to close down a great place. You ae sickening people!

    10. Jack says:

      One day I was walking past The West End and some old lady was trying to convince me to help get this place shut down because of “The queers, freaks and N….. word. Do I live in NYC?

    11. Anon says:

      Hmmm… I’m all for small business and even nightlife in the neighborhood — we fed could use more live music. But the business owners have to do their part with sound proofing and crowd control too. Everyone should respect their neighbors, and that includes individuals (nod to the dogs pissing on everyone else’s front steps and parents using strollers as weapons) and businesses alike. Sounds like the business is not holding up their end of the bargain.

    12. Jeff Portnoy's Complaint says:

      It strikes me funny how many folks will post a “Hate Has No Home” sign in their apartment window and talk about their unending support for refugees, then fight tooth and nail to evict one of the few places where trans, queer and black people congregate in their neighborhood.

    13. NCo says:

      Having been to and been in a number of shows here, all of this is sad. It’s the unfortunate nature of a music venue to upset neighbors, but this is a worldwide issue.
      Not to belittle the discomfort that those who live in surrounding apartments experience; but it’s a shame for the regulars and newcomers who deem this place a safe haven, not to mention the talented folks that don’t have a venue at which to perform that is of this nature and so accepting and open anywhere nearby.