71 Pineapple Liquor License Approved by CB2 Committee

Following a contentious meeting and several compromises, a CB2 committee unanimously approved a liquor license for a forthcoming cafe at 71 Pineapple St.

Angry neighbors showed up to battle over the serving of alcohol in the cafe’s backyard space, which they said was unfit for a residential neighborhood. That fight, however, turned out to be a non-issue tonight when the owners were informed by the Community Board that a separate application would need to be filed to approve the serving of alcohol outside.

Still, the neighbors of the buildings that surround the space said that any venue that serves alcohol, inside or out, would be a nuisance on this block. Representatives from City Council member Steve Levin and Assemblymember Joan Millman’s offices echoed the sentiment, asking the Community Board not to approve the request for a full liquor license.

Before finding out that they would not be able to serve alcohol regardless of tonight’s decision, co-owner Tom Finniean said in his presentation to the Board that the backyard would close nightly at 8 p.m. and the interior space was going to be soundproofed to insure noise doesn’t travel outside.

Finniean said that the still-unnamed venue was going to be a European-style cafe that would serve light fare throughout the day, including pastries in the morning and sandwiches, soups and salads for lunch.

“It’s going to be a comfortable place for neighbors to gather,” he said. The space was not going to be a bar and the focus was not going to be on alcohol. The new cafe will open in about four or five months, he said.

Marian Wood, who spoke on behalf of Steve Levin’s office, said that it was a difficult situation, but that there were too many residences too close to the venue.

“There is not a big need for this space in the neighborhood,” she said, adding there were already 13 venues in the area that sell alcohol.

Later in the evening that argument was disputed by John Harrison, the co-chair of the Health, Environment and Social Services Committee.

“I beg to differ that this a purely residential neighborhood,” he said.

Ultimately, the committee decided that since alcohol would not be served in the backyard space, the liquor license should be approved. Tonight’s vote cleared a major hurdle for the venue. Next, the full Community Board has to approve the proposal before the Community Board presents its decision to the State Liquor Authority, which has ultimate authority to approve or disapprove a license.

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  • Fritz

    Backyard issue? Instead of NIMBY it’s NBYIMBY.

  • Fritz

    According to the Brooklyn Eagle website “There was a bar in this space at 71 Pineapple for many years but it has been closed and boarded up more recently. “

  • my2cents

    Fritz, it’s more like NIMBYOB.

  • Publius

    Yet another example of how the unelected, unrepresentative Community Boards don’t represent the people of the neighborhoods they claim to serve. The CBs should be abolished and decisions should be made by elected officials who are accountable to constituents.

  • John

    who really cares at the end of the day !
    don’t patronize this place if you disapprove !
    get a life !!!!!

  • bklyn20

    Any information on the River Cafe Cabaret License??? It was also on the agenda for last night’s meeting. If the cabaret passes muster, its revenues might be able to help finance Brooklyn Bridge Park. (The owner, Buzzy O’Keefe, already has a long-term sweetheart deal on the rent.)

    Publius, this suggestion might render me unpopular, but perhaps you and other like-minded people should call the CB2 office and see who the full board members are in your neighborhood. You might be able to contact them via email on your thoughts about important local issues. If CB2 is able to get its website up and running, everyone would have advance notice of meetings and agendas and know which meetings to attend. Until the website gets online, knowing who can vote on the big issues at meetings and how to get in touch with them might be worthwhile. Knowing what is going on at the committee meeting level is helpful, too. This is a different approach, but it might lead to more community participation and input.

  • ABC

    Well, I lived in a place when a adjoined restaurant put in a backyard garden. I didn’t get to sleep before 2AM for 3 years — when I finally had to give up on my home. They “closed” at a certain hour which only meant they didn’t seat more people, but the people who were there could drink and drink and drink til long after closing.

    I’d love to have such a place in the neighborhood, but I’m sympathetic to the neighbors.

  • nabeguy

    Aren’t the landlords the same ones that are putting up the building right next door? If so, aren’t they kind of shooting themselves in the foot by allowing this? Who’s going to pay top dollar for an apartment overlooking a noisy restaurant?

  • mtierney

    I have read with interest the comments that have been posted on this Blog about the liquor license application at 71 Pineapple Street. Mostly because my home is unfortunately situated next door to that property. I have lived there for 20 years, have seen the neighborhood change and have experienced two businesses come and go from the commercial space during that time.

    The fact is that I don’t know anyone who wants to live within such a close proximity to any business that is serving liquor or being open after regular business hours. In the back of my apartment I share a wall with this commercial space. The bedroom with that shared wall is now where my daughter sleeps. The windows in this room overlook the garden area they proposed to use (which as I understand has yet to be determined if this will happen).

    I was especially fascinated by “John’s” comment, “who really cares at the end of the day !
    don’t patronize this place if you disapprove !
    get a life !!!!!”

    John, the end of the day is exactly the time when we care the most. That is when we come home from work and finally have some peaceful time to quietly enjoy our homes, commune with our families and loved ones and relax. We do not wish that time to be disruptive in anyway. It is one of the reasons why many of us treasure Brooklyn Heights. We like a quiet peaceful place to enjoy and at the end of day relax and rest up for the next day.

    And by the way, I did get a life, one that I happily made in Brooklyn Heights. In the 20 years that I have lived here, I completed two graduate degrees, worked in local places of cultural interest (both the Brooklyn Historical Society and the New York Transit Museum), got married and had two children. I have done my best to live harmoniously with my neighbors and to keep my property in order.

    My concerns stem from past experience (the “Whatever” bar was pure hell to live that close to). I can only hope that the new owners of this “café/Lounge” are respectful to those of us who live on this purely residential block.

  • nazimova

    I agree with “John” The “club 71″ was there when I first came to the block.. then it was a Mexican place then “whatever” the club 71 wa a gay bar (gay straight, mixed) the same with “whatever” neither of which caused any trouble on the block..In fact the idea that a business is operating AND there are people around Pineapple st. past midnite is a GOOD thing..A safe thing.. I for one was always used to a bar in that space and will be happy to see one again(Bar, restaurant anythng open late makes for people which makes for a safe block!!Of course smoking was allowed indoor s back then so nobody was outside) I assume there will be smoking in their backyard space so again you won’t see people milling about outside..the place is closing at Midnite and they are going out of their way having meeetings with the block,etc What do people want for crying out loud YOU DON”T OWN PINEAPPLE ST PEOPLE!!
    everybody has a right to make a living EVEN on PINEAPPLE ST!!!

  • ghostofcranberrypast

    Wow…things have not changed in this hood. The reason I moved out of this neighborhood was the lack of interesting little cafes and businesses like the one proposed. People say another establishment like this is not needed? Tell me one place in the North Heights where you can enjoy a nice evening dining al fresco? (Besides the commercial strip of Montague)
    Not to mention the place is currently an eye sore as is. You would think people would be excited to have a nice cafe on their block instead of some boarded up dump. Nope, not in Brooklyn Heights.
    This is a cafe that will close it’s garden at 8pm, not a gay disco.

  • my2cents

    Maybe it will be a new gay bar called “Manhole Fire”

  • mtierney


    I quite understand that we do not “OWN PINEAPPLE ST PEOPLE!!”, however, some of us do own our homes which are extremely close to this space and will be affected by it. Those of us who are opposed to the concept of a cafe/lounge serving liquor in that space are not adverse to the space being used, just not for a business operating after usual business hours. I can only assume that you do not live close to or adjacent to any form of business that operates on the other side of your bedroom walls or that your windows are not within a close proximity to an outdoor space that is being used for a commercial purpose. Consider how you would feel if you lived in a peaceful quiet environment for 12 years and all of sudden, one night that all changed. What would you say to your child whose sleep was interupted by a commercial presence that was never their during the course of their life?
    Yes, everyone does have a right to make a living, but not at the expense of others.

  • MadeInBrooklyn

    I am really starting to HATE all the people who now live in this neighborhood.

  • nabeguy

    nazimova, the only thing weaker than your argument is your grasp of punctuation. In your own post, you list three businesses that failed in that space, none of which conducted their business outdoors. What would lead anyone to believe that this new bar will be welcomed any more than its predecessors? Simply because they’re offering the exoticism of an al fresco space on a residential block? Yeah, that’s going to work.

  • ghostofcranberrypast

    ” I can only assume that you do not live close to or adjacent to any form of business that operates on the other side of your bedroom walls or that your windows are not within a close proximity to an outdoor space that is being used for a commercial purpose.”
    I’m sorry….last time I checked we live in New York City. I would think it would be very safe to assume that MANY people live close to or adjacent to a commercial outdoor space or share a wall with a business that operates after 5pm. You live less than half a block from Henry St, the main commercial strip of the North Heights, not a country lane in the Catskills.

  • kipped

    This sounds like another Tazza or Tea Lounge situation to me. Tazza (Clark St) provides a decent enough service for the neighborhood, and Tea Lounge *would have,* but as a young person w/o kids living in the North Heights, I don’t see what this cafe will add. I’ll always advocate for new and interesting restaurants and bars in the neighborhood, but this seems to have “closed before it opens” written all over it. The nearby residents don’t want it. The residents who do want it are likely the same people who want a drink after midnight. Where would I go when I was done with dinner at this cafe? The wine bar? While this new place might provide a nice alternative for a weekend croissant, I definitely don’t see it as a reason stay on the north side of Atlantic during a night out.

    I’m actually not opposed to the idea of this cafe at all (and am, in fact, excited about the possibility of another cute restaurant in the neighborhood), but I beg and plead to the owners: if you’re going to do it, do it right. And if you’re not going to offer outdoor seating after 8pm, why bother offering it at all? You’re basically limiting use of that space to 8 hours a day, 4-5 months out of the year. Is it worth the neighborhood headache? I’m already frustrated about the idea of showing up and not being able to sit outside after 8pm…

  • The Whereov

    People of Brooklyn Heights you must embrace real businesses or face a future of DORMS, DORMS,DORMS and the anti-social types they house.

    Build real businesses and real adult professionals will want to live here in droves and drive your property values up!


  • my2cents

    The problem is that too many commercially zoned spaces have been converted to residences over the last 60 years ( I should know…I live in one!) leaving the streetscape here overly residential. There is not enough mixed use of stores, restaurants and housing, creating an atmosphere that then is hostile to new businesses, because it is no longer what people are accustomed to (hence the suburban NIMBY mindset). Also the scarcity of commercial space keeps rents of stores like ROWF too high for small business to survive. When Jack the Horse was being prepared I went through a lot of worries about what sort of noise, smells, etc it would generate since I basically live next door. Well, I can say now a few years later that my fears were unfounded.

  • mtierney

    ghostofcranberrypast: Just because we live in NYC doesn’t mean that we cannot find quiet places to live. As mentioned, I personally do not want to live close to or adjacent to a commercial outdoor space or share a wall with a business that operates after regular business hours. If others choose to do so it is their prerogative. Although it is true that I do live less than half a block from the commercial strip on Henry St, I do not, nor did I choose to live on that commercial strip. There is a distinct difference between these blocks. And by the way, as I was born and raised in Brooklyn and have visited the Catskills, I have a clear understanding of the difference between a country lane in the Catskills and a residential block in Brooklyn Heights.

    If we are all going to have real adult discussions about these issues, let’s stick to the relevant facts.

    I was glad to hear from my2cents that JTH was able to open their business in that area of the Heights without negative impact. I hope that my concerns are unfounded. The operators of this proposed cafe/lounge have said that they plan to soundproof the interior of their space including the windows.

    I support local business, and will continue to do so. However, I maintain that no business should exist at the expense of others. A harmonious balance should be met.

  • Reggie

    “I personally do not want to live close to or adjacent to a commercial outdoor space or share a wall with a business that operates after regular business hours.”

    “Consider how you would feel if you lived in a peaceful quiet environment for 12 years and all of sudden, one night that all changed.”

    “If we are all going to have real adult discussions about these issues, let’s stick to the relevant facts.”

    Here’s a couple relevant facts: the zoning map makes this part of Pineapple Street legal for commercial use. The commercial overlay was created more than 12 years ago.

  • ghostofcranberrypast

    Here’s another relevant fact: You chose to live next door to a commercial space that you do not own or control. You knew it was a bar in the past, what made you think it might not be a bar again some day? Just because it’s been laying dormant for the past few years and you’ve since had a child does not entitle you to deem what is appropriate use of the space. Sorry.

  • hickster

    @whereov — clearly, you did not get the memo. real estate values here are UP and stay UP, mainly because of the quiet, residential, family-oriented character of this neighborhood. Then again, from your silly “wake up white people” closer, it is evident that you don’t get many memos on the turnip truck where you seem to be spending your time.

  • nabeguy

    hickster, just hit the snooze alarm when it comes to trolls like The Whereov. Although I have to admit that I’ll probably lose some sleep worrying about the “anti-social types” that are housed in the dorms. WTF? Is there a neo-Charles Whitman attending Pace that we should be aware of? If so, more than enough reason to stay clear of this new bar.
    my2, you make a very interesting point about the last 60 years and the trend towards de-commercialization. I can’t speak with any authority as to whether that’s due to zoning changes, but its roots of it can be found in the evaporation of industries in the area that began in the 50’s and 60’s.The Squibb plant alone must have employed hundreds of employees that no longer spend their dollars in our neighborhood. Another example is the abandonment of our waterfront as a commercial port, with the subsequent loss of even more jobs. And the BQE certainly had an impact…just take a walk along Hicks Street between Middagh and Poplar and count the number of converted store-fronts to gauge the impact on business that it had by bisecting the Heights from the waterfront. Things change, landscapes shift…and mtierney is most likely screwed, unfortunately.

  • my2cents

    Yes Nabeguy I was hoping you’d comment as someone who has witnessed the changes firsthand. I agree the cutting off of Hicks Street and demolition of the north heights for the BQE probably had a major impact on the commercial street life of the neighborhood as a whole because Hicks was no longer a “through” street. As I live near you, I often count the number of converted storefronts and wonder what things would be like if they were still stores. On the positive (?) side the building of the BQE through the north heights also laid the groundwork for it to become the rich, secure, primarily residential enclave it is today by isolating it physically from the “rough” waterfront. If you read Truman Capote’s “House on the Heights” he describes that hillside part of the nabe as a gauntlet of teenage waterfront hoodlums who try to rob him of his camera. Today all we have are Guders and St. Anns kids.

  • nabeguy

    Thanks my2, I’ll make sure to read it. I forgot about the hillside community that pre-existed the BQE…apparently a prime target for Moses’s slum clearance agenda. I have to chuckle at the idea of what Capote defined as hoodlums…did they knot their scarves the wrong way?

  • my2cents

    I don’t know nabeguy, but in the end he runs all the way home to Willow street! The piece is a must read as it goes into loving detail about the neighborhood and also waxes poetic about Gage and Tollner. (drinking G&Ts at G&T as he puts it)