Realmuto Plans a New Restaurant

By Brian J Pape, AIA

Getting a liquor license is not easy, but it must be worth it for many, because Manhattan has neighborhoods with the highest density of bars, taverns and restaurants in the world, including Greenwich Village. Even pizza joints apply for liquor licenses.

As a case in point, a new restaurant is proposed by Francesco Realmuto at 117 7th Avenue South, near the corner of 10th Street here in the Greenwich Village Historic District, the location of the former Gourmet Garage Supermarket until it was priced out by rent increases. No exterior changes are proposed to the exterior, except signage.

THE RELATIVELY NEW CREAM-COLOR BRICK BUILDING, left, at 117 7th Avenue South held a Gourmet Garage Supermarket until a few years ago, about when two additional floors were added. Now, Realmuto Restaurant hopes to open their store in that ground floor space with a liquor license and open sidewalk café’, directly adjacent to two other nightclub sidewalk enclosures on 7th Avenue, right. Credit: Brian J Pape, AIA.

One thing that is remarkable about this location is that it has never had a liquor license there before. This is a red flag for the neighborhood. The new restaurant, to be called Realmuto, will not be just any restaurant. The proprietor plans to have a gelato counter and a specialty pastry counter within the premises, while the fine dining restaurant occupies the remainder of the space. There will also be lots of outside seating on the broad sidewalk along Seventh Avenue.

This application to the Community Board 2 (CB2) SLA2 Committee was held over from February until the March 9 meeting. Nevertheless, of the eight items required for an application, the applicant did not have all those for the public hearing. The requirement to show all other liquor licenses within 500 feet was missing, and the size of the floor area was stated as less than 1/3 of the actual size, until questions revealed its true size.

Not having the correct information for the committee to consider makes it very difficult to evaluate the proposed facility, but the neighbors understood the proposal well enough to voice their strong concerns about another liquor license where there had never been one. They also were very concerned about the noise generated by late night socializing on the open sidewalk café along a busy street. Two other bars with unapproved enclosed sidewalk seating are operating immediately south of this location. So even though some neighbors appreciated that this long-empty storefront could provide new services and activities to the vacant space, that was not enough to overcome their distaste for this type of licensing.

The CB2 committee was able to stipulate certain restrictions of hours and use of the space after early evening, especially as a fine dining establishment, and were assured by the proprietor’s experience in the city with other establishments, that they voted to allow the license to proceed to the State Liquor Authority for final processing.

Brian J. Pape is a citizen architect in private practice, serving on the Manhattan District 2 Community Board Landmarks Committee, the State Liquor Authority Committee, and Quality of Life Committee (speaking solely in a personal, and not an official capacity), Co-chair of the American Institute of Architects NY Design for Aging Committee, is a member of AIANY Historic Buildings and Housing Committees, is a LEED-AP “Green” certified architect, and is a citizen journalist specializing in architecture subjects.