After much speculation over the renewal of Café Déjà vu Lounge & Grill’s liquor license, it was approved by the State Liquor Authority, according to owner Robert Karagi.
“The license went through because we don’t have any violations against us,” said Karagi. “People can speculate over whatever they want, but the 49th Precinct has no complaints against us.”
Café Déjà vu, located at 778 Morris Park Avenue, which reopened October 4, is often the subject of complaints from neighborhood residents and community officials, who find the facility to be a deterrent on the neighborhood.
“They know the bottom line, they can’t stay here. We went through this with Café Karma and now we are putting up with MP Pub and Déjà vu, our standard of living is being affected,” said Joe Bombace, a member of Community Board 11. “I live here and they don’t. The people who use the facility are not neighborhood people, they are not people coming from Morris Park.”
Despite the complaints against Déjà vu, Karagi stated he is willing to compromise and work with community, should they ask.
Recently, Karagi responded to a request to remove a Broadway Poker machine from his facility. The machine is considered legal, and can be found in several other locations throughout the Bronx, but is frowned upon. “One of the neighbors came up to me and asked me to remove it, and I said it was not a problem.”
According to Karagi, he hopes to expand the lounge in the future to include a daytime dining establishment. This improvement would allow the location to cater to families and still be a lounge on weekend evenings.
Even with the changes Karagi has planned for the future, noise issues and loitering continue to be of concern to local residents.
“The noise brings a negative element to a residential community, and many residents do not know how to direct their complaints to 311,” said Bombace. “This establishment doesn’t belong here, it belongs down in Manhattan. I have to do what is in the best interests of the community, and right now this place is not.”
Karagi believes instead that his business helps contribute to the community by bringing in businesses and companies that would have once overlooked this part of the Bronx.
“I was born and raised in the Bronx, and I wanted my lounge to be in the place where I came from, I could have put this place anywhere I wanted with the money I invested into it,” said Karagi. “I beautified this whole neighborhood, if you look around there are more and more stores opening up here because of my business.”
Other issues surrounding Déjà vu, such as the possession of a cabaret license, continue to be speculation. Though Karagi denies the lounge possesses a cabaret license, which would put the location illegally within the 500 feet requirement of the two nearby churches, there is an ongoing investigation into this matter.