As the smoke clears, a new establishment may soon replace Vapor Lounge.
At the Community Board 10 full board meeting on Thursday, June 21, a resolution was passed to send a letter to the State Liquor Authority to allow Vapor Lounge to change to Karma Lounge & Tapas Bar.
The letter was sent before Vapor Lounge ownership was scheduled to meet with the SLA on Wednesday, June 27.
“Vapor Lounge cannot exist as it has in the past,” said CB 10 district manager, Matt Cruz, in reference to the community’s frustration with the establishment’s violent past, like the March 7 altercation that left one patron slashed and beaten unconscious.
The incident proved to be the last straw for the community, with many calling for the Throggs Neck bars’ complete closure or liquor license revocation.
On March 15, Vapor Lounge’s owner, Troy Perez, spoke before the board and said the hookah bar would change their method of operation and restructure their business.
An earlier attempt in May to get CB 10 approval for the Karma Lounge & Tapas Bar, ended in a 15-15 tie vote with three abstentions, because some members of the board thought Vapor Lounge was applying for a new liquor license.
Vapor Lounge ownership team had stayed true to their word since then, complying with community board suggestions.
They even purchased new store signage, which the board believed was a good faith act to convince them the business was going in a new direction, according to the letter.
While the new Karma Lounge & Tapas Bar would still operate under the existing Vapor Lounge liquor license and with the same ownership, the business would be a completely restructured and revamped restaurant.
Karma Lounge & Tapas Bar would not offer hookah anymore. It was blamed for drawing Vapor Lounge’s troublesome clientele.
Instead, the new business would install a kitchen to serve bar food, include karaoke and live music, and even present comedy shows.
“At the end of the day, the board supported the community,” said Cruz of the majority vote to send the letter that collectively supported the brand new establishment. “We’re happy to see Vapor Lounge change, that’s for sure.”
The community board letter and approval is only advisory. The SLA ultimately has the final say in whether Vapor Lounge at 3758 E. Tremont Avenue can become Karma Lounge & Tapas Bar, according to Cruz.
The Bronx Times was not notified of the final decision on whether Vapor Lounge would be permitted to become the Karma Tapas Bar before the story printed.
Matt Cruz said the community board would know of the official decision as early as Monday, July 2.
“Vapor Lounge, or whatever it becomes, will always have a target, [on its back]” said Cruz who explained the board would continue to monitor the establishment closely if the change to Karma Lounge & Tapas Bar is not approved and Vapor Lounge remains.
The 45th Precinct had not responded to any calls at Vapor Lounge since its last incident in March, according to Cruz, who has been in contact with the precinct about the bar.
It has changed its previous method of operation since the March altercation by closing earlier weekdays and weekends and changing its security team.