Although the West Farms community is strongly against it, the owner of a new neighborhood bar vows that his place is “not the usual business.”
Across from the West Farms MTA Bus Depot at 1101 E. 177th Street is a location notoriously known for its bad reputation. The former business that occupied the site was a strip club named Smitty’s, was permanently shut down in early 2010 after over a decade of countless violations involving permits, drugs, prostitution and gambling.
In September 2010, Mason Reese, a long-time tavern owner, purchased the property and by Thursday, January 6, held the grand opening of the brand new Luxury Box Sports Bar and Cabaret, which he says will not be duplicating the previous bar’s business plan.
Locals and members of Community Board 6 believe the bar will be trouble just like Smitty’s, and sent a letter of disapproval to the State Liquor Authority when Reese was applying for his liquor license, claiming that businesses such as this do not belong next to residential buildings.
Despite CB 6’s efforts, Reese was granted a liquor license through November 2012 and the State Liquor Authority admitted that although they received the CB 6 letter, it was never reviewed.
“I truly understand why the community board is concerned because of how the place used to be,” Reese said. “I didn’t know the last owner personally, but the bottom-line is bad things did happen here. I want the board to understand that Luxury Box is nothing like the old place and we assure them that there will never be legal problems here.”
CB 6 only acts in an advisory role in the granting of a liquor license. The letter of disapprova,l that was not reviewed by the authority, would have sent Reese’s application before a state panel that would have weighed heavily on the granting of the license.
The bar is completely renovated and although it will feature female dancers in bikinis, Reese said the bar will not be anything like a strip club, but will serve as a local night spot that people can go to watch sporting events, have a few drinks and eat great food without having to go into Manhattan.
Reese has no problem working with local authorities and the 48th Precinct has been working closely with CB 6 to monitor the bar’s activity on a nightly basis and the State Liquor Authority told the board to contact them immediately should any problems develop.
In fact, Reese has installed over a dozen security cameras within the bar and has hired 10 licensed security guards who will be on the premises at all times to keep out any unwanted activity.
“We have been opened for six weeks, police have been here, and we’ve had no complaints or problems,” Reese said. “Unfortunately, the past businesses that have been at this location have given this spot a bad reputation, but our goal is to prove to people that Luxury Box is a fun and safe place to be.”