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Community endorses eatery at Liquor Authority hearing

A relatively large crowd turned out for a State Liquor Authority hearing in Manhattan Tuesday in support of a new Bayside restaurant to be located in the former home of the United Artists Bayside Quad, but not everyone favored the new venture.

The subject of the hearing was a liquor license for a restaurant being planned by two Bayside restaurant owners, Papazzio’s Dominick Bruccoleri and Erawan’s Paul Lim. The eatery, slated to open later this year on Bell Boulevard, is tentatively called “39th East,” and was expected to feature a “fusion” menu mixing a variety of cuisines including French, Thai, Italian and Japanese.

The State Liquor Authority will not make a decision on the Bayside liquor license until after May 30. The agency will accept written testimony on the liquor license application until Tuesday.

The Bayside hearing was one of a handful of liquor license applications being considered by the State Liquor Authority Tuesday morning. There were nine speakers in favor of Bruccoleri’s application Tuesday, while no one spoke at the other hearings except for the merchants requesting the licenses.

The hearing was held under the State Liquor Authority’s 500-foot rule, a law established in 1993, one year after an off-duty police officer was murdered on Bell Boulevard after trying to break up a bar fight near the site of the new restaurant.

Established by state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose), the 500-foot rule requires public hearings if there are “three or more retail on-premises liquor licensees located within 500-feet” of a new business applying for such a license in a municipality of 20,000 people or more. Those applying for liquor licenses under the 500-foot rule must prove their businesses will benefit the public interest, the SLA said.

Charles Assini, counsel to Padavan, said the execution-style murder of city Housing Police Officer Paul Heidelberger on Bell Boulevard in July 1992 was the motivation for the development of the 500-foot rule.

“That was really the genesis of this bill,” Assini said.

Both Papazzio and Erawan’s are on Bell Boulevard.

Those who supported Bruccoleri, including several Bayside residents, said there was nothing wrong with creating a new fine dining restaurant for Bell Boulevard and the 500-foot rule was meant to restrict bars and clubs.

Resident Gerald Wren, who was one of three residents to voice their support, testified that “just the fact that they serve alcohol should not keep the establishment off the boulevard — it should depend on their track record.”

Other supporters were not given the opportunity to testify but told to state their names and their support for Bruccoleri for the public record.

Michael Beaudry, a Baysider, also expressed positive feelings about the new restaurant.

“I went door-to-door to every house” near the proposed eatery, he said “and did not run into any opposition.”

Civic leader Frank Skala, president of the East Bayside Homeowners Association, spoke in opposition to a liquor license for the new restaurant. Skala said he had calculated nine other businesses with liquor licenses were within 500-feet of the proposed restaurant, while Bruccoleri’s lawyer Charles Levin said his client’s restaurant would be the fourth.

Beaudry said Skala “has a problem distinguishing between bars and fine dining restaurants.”

As planned, the new restaurant will feature seating for about 100 patrons on two floors, a bar and about 27 parking spots, said Levin, who said Bruccoleri was in negotiations to arrange for 15 more parking spots for the restaurant.

Levin insisted his client’s new restaurant would be “in the public interest,” because Bruccoleri has no violations on his record and the building — formerly the UA Bayside Quad — “had become an eyesore in the neighborhood” before closing down.

Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.

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