A popular Bay Ridge watering hole is coming under fire from neighboring residents and the local community board after a backlog of 311 complaints which recently came to light highlighted the pub’s lack of proper licensing for its rear yard.
At a May 21 Community Board 10 meeting, board members addressed the slew of building violations and a mass of quality-of-life complaints from neighbors regarding Lonestar Sports Bar & Grill, 8703 Fifth Avenue,, as well as what that all means for the joint and its owner moving forward.
“Their [State Liquor Authority (SLA)] license was up for renewal at which point we looked and found that there were 115 noise complaints,” explained CB 10 District Manager Josephine Beckmann. “Then we looked towards the Department of Buildings (DOB) and we saw a whole bunch of violations there pertaining to the rear yard.”
The rear yard, she said, is exactly what neighbors are upset about. A compilation of 311 complaints forwarded to this paper showed more than 250 phone-ins dating back to 2011. In an eight-day period from April 28 to May 5, 2018, there were seven alone – all of them for loud noise coming from outside.
“When we had our first meeting, over a dozen residents came and said that their quality of life has been directly affected,” Beckmann said, noting that, gripes about Lonestar’s live bands, loud music and other various late night activity aside, there have also been grievances about heavy smoking – some of which go against stipulations the bar’s owner Tony Gentile had already previously agreed to.
Still, Beckmann said, the board “sought to work that out and we really wanted to work with the business.” So did the residents, she said, stressing that all of them seemed to sympathize with the business’s method of operation, including its obviously successful use of the backyard, especially in spring and summer.
“However, when we contacted the SLA to get more information, we also learned that he is not licensed,” Beckmann said.
Board 10 Police and Public Safety Committee Chair Lori Willis explained at the May meeting that the pub’s owner Tony Gentile first came before the board in 2007 seeking approval for an SLA application which did not include the rear yard, which the board endorsed – as did the SLA. Then, in 2011, he appeared before the panel with an alteration application to include the rear yard, which he never ended up filing with the SLA. But, in seeking approval from the board, the owner entered into stipulations which put caps on such things as hours of operation in the rear and volume control.
Gentile’s current license does not permit him to sell or consume alcohol in the backyard – which, Beckmann also noted, has been expanded to include two neighboring yards as well as the original one.
Gentile has agreed to cease all use of the rear yard, Willis said, until the situation is sorted out. Though, board member Brian Kieran outed the owner at the May meeting for breaking his word. “He promised he wouldn’t use the backyard. . .but he did, and he said ‘I had to,’” Kieran said, Gentile’s reasoning being that he’d had booked parties prior to the agreement. However, Kieran said, it’s been more than just a few small get-togethers.
Despite the controversy, Beckmann hopes Gentile – who has told the board he will appear with his attorney at its June 18 general meeting, the last before summer break – will work with the community to rectify these issues.
To do so, she said, Gentile would first have to obtain proper permits from the DOB to use the rear yard, correct any outstanding violations and also continue on with his application to renew his current SLA license. From there, he would have to file an alteration application to sell alcohol back there.
“At that point, we hope that we can work with him on a stipulation agreement that can properly address the neighborhood complaints,” Beckmann said. “We want him to do well and, believe it or not, so do the neighbors. We just want him to do it the right way.”
“We’re not an anti-business board. . .when they’re good neighbors,” Kieran said. “But apparently this guy has never been a good neighbor. We just never knew about it.”
Whether or not Gentile appears at the forthcoming meeting, Beckmann said, the board will vote on the application. The board’s vote is advisory only.
Gentile had not immediately responded to this paper’s request for comment.