Today’s news:

New Bell Blvd. restaurant given state liquor license amidflak

Bell Boulevard’s newest eatery was awarded a liquor license last week by the State Liquor Authority despite some opposition from at least one community activist.

The new restaurant being planned by two Bayside restaurateurs — Papazzio’s Dominick Bruccoleri and Erawan’s Paul Lim — called 39 East is scheduled to open in mid- to late October in the old home of the United Artists Bayside Quad. It is expected to feature a fusion menu mixing a variety of cuisines including French, Thai, Italian and Japanese.

“People have to make the distinction between a fine dining establishment and a bar-club,” said Bruccoleri. “A restaurant makes its money off of food, whereas a bar-club makes its money off of alcohol.”

He said 39 East will not have a 50-seat bar that is three-deep with customers as people push toward the rail to get drinks. The bar, he said, will be an area where customers can have a drink before they eat.

Bruccoleri said the establishment will be a success and expectations from the clientele at both Papazzio’s and Erawan’s will exceed those held by the owners. He said 39 East will serve “a cuisine unlike anything around here.”

Lim said the partners were very pleased about getting the license and now look forward to opening 39 East.

“It is a good restaurant for the neighborhood, something different,” he said.

At a recent SLA hearing on the license application for 39 East, those who supported Bruccoleri, including several Bayside residents, said there was nothing wrong with creating a new fine dining restaurant for Bell Boulevard.

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.”

But Frank Skala, head of the East Bayside Homeowners Association, disagreed with the SLA decision to grant the new restaurant a liquor license.

“To me it is the beginning of the return to Bar Boulevard,” Skala said. “It took 10 years to get over the murder and now we are going back to party town.”

In 1992, 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. The killing prompted the establishment of the State Liquor Authority’s 500-foot rule, established in 1993.

Skala said there are dozens of places to patronize on Bell and several other bar-restaurants in the works, warning that they will bring back the same feeling that pervaded the area in 1992.

“I don’t want to say I told you so,” Skala said, “but when it turns sour, I will say I told you so.”

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.

    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.”

Reach reporter Adam Kramer by e-mail at or call 229-0300, Ext. 157.

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