Request for liquor license is troubling


The state liquor authority recently notified Community Board 8 of a new business applying for a license in Kingsbridge next door to Tijuana Nites. Initially not confirmed whether it’d be a restaurant or bar, the license sparked conversation among community members on whether the addition of such a place would create a unwanted nightlife block.

Turns out, it’s a restaurant.

The applicant, Osteria LLC, has applied for a liquor license for a restaurant at 220 W 242nd St, according to the liquor authority. Public safety committee chair Ed Green told The Press it’s made several inquires to view the application but have not heard back from the liquor authority.

“I think the overall concern, just from the few people I spoke with at the executive meeting is, I don’t think anybody wants to see that area turned into a nightclubbing type area,” Green said. “We’ve had enough complaints from that one area.”

Tijuana Nites has had a less than favorable reputation among board members in the past, with the bar having a host of 3-1-1 complaints in 2022, Green said. The board also had several people testify about being assaulted outside the establishment.

While Green said police had not received any reports about the establishment since 2022, one resident, Evan Santiago, said trash outside Tijuana Nites remains a common sight.

“It’s just garbage littered all over the floor,” he said. “Damn near half a bottle’s worth of liquor sitting on the road. There’s always garbage over here because they’re just throwing stuff out.”

Agatha Williams, another resident in the area, said frequent screaming and yelling causes her to wake up early in the morning. Another resident, Jessica Rivera, said it’s typical to see large crowds and double-parking on the street.

“It’s just really loud sometimes. They’re screaming, yelling at each other. What can I do?” Rivera said. “Bars are always hectic. People are drunk and, you know, have fun for a while.”

Several residents claimed the bar stayed open until 4 or 5 a.m., but the bar owner, Reese Johnson, said it closes at 2 a.m. Johnson became owner less than a year ago, he said, and acknowledged the bar’s previous past with violence. He said that no longer occurs.

“When anyone comes in with that type of bad energy, we do not tolerate that,” Johnson said. “We hold ourselves responsible (to picking up trash outside). If you look across the street, they always have it clean. You wouldn’t to be that neighbor that everyone’s walking around like ‘man, now I have to watch my step.’”

There was an assault on the street outside the bar April 27 around 3:55 a.m., according to police.

A 32-year-old man was found slashed on the left side of his face and transported to Saint Barnabas Hospital in stable condition.

Johnson said the victim did not come from his business.

“That person was just … double parked and went into the deli to order a sandwich or whatever,” Johnson said.

Johnson said he welcomed a potential new bar around the corner, adding he doesn’t believe there would be any competition with Tijuana Nites.

He was not alone in his opinion. One Manhattan College student, Alex Bale, said he’d like to see a bigger bar scene in the area with an Old West styled bar.

John Himes, a resident in the area, said he understood neighbors wanting peace of mind, but said they should allow young people to have a quality of life as well.

“A lot of times people look for things to complain about when there’s things going on all across this country that can be complained,” he said.

“You can’t control what happens in the community if it’s people from outside of the community coming in. So does that mean the bar should not be open or should be shut down? Absolutely not.”

The issue of the liquor-license application arose with the board due to the liquor authority’s 500-foot law, which requires a hearing to see if it’s in the public interest to issue a liquor license to a business within 500 feet of three other establishments with liquor licenses.

The board wrote a letter to the authority sharing concerns about the license potentially not being in the public interest.

Kingsbridge Liquor license application Community Board 8 Tijuana Nites Nightlife impact Public safety concerns Osteria LLC 220 W 242nd St Public interest 500-foot law