By Kathianne Boniello
A pair of Bayside restaurateurs have been gearing up to bring a little Manhattan to Bell Boulevard in the form of a new eatery specializing in “fusion” cuisine — but the State Liquor Authority may be in the way.
The proposed restaurant’s acquisition of a liquor license could be in jeopardy if the State Liquor Authority decides that there are already too many bars on Bayside’s “Main Street.”
The agency is planning a May 21 hearing on the issue, focusing on its 500-foot rule, which 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.
The State Liquor Authority’s 500-foot rule originally was established in 1993 by state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose) after city Housing Police Officer Paul Heidelberger was shot and murdered execution style on Bell Boulevard. Heidelberger, who was off-duty, was trying to break up an out-of-hand bar fight at the time of his death.
The new restaurant, a creation of Pappazzio’s owner Dominick Bruccoleri and Erawan proprietor Paul Lim, tentatively is being called “39th East” and is slated to open in the former home of the United Artists theater in Bayside, Lim said. Plans for the eatery have not been finalized. Bruccoleri did not return several calls for comment.
Lim said “fusion” cuisine is “a marriage between East and Midwest” styles of food and that the menu would include French, Italian, Thai and Japanese dishes. Lim, who owns eateries in Manhattan and Queens, said the “fusion” style has been gaining popularity in Manhattan.
Civic leader Frank Skala, president of the East Bayside Homeowners Association, has come out against the new restaurant and generally opposes new liquor license applications.
Skala, who said the proposed restaurant is about 150 feet away from where Heidelberger was murdered, said his civic is generally opposed to granting new liquor licenses for any business.
“Bayside is already saturated with alcohol and we don’t need any more,” said Skala, who sometimes refers to Bell Boulevard as “Bar Boulevard.”
Patrick Bannon, a former bouncer at a Bell Boulevard club, was convicted of shooting Heidelberger, and the murder became a turning point in the life of Bell Boulevard, with many clubs and bars closing their doors.
Charles Assini, counsel to Padavan, said the Heidelberger murder was the motivation for the development of the 500-foot rule.
“That was really the genesis of this bill,” said Assini.
Assini said the bill did not affect existing restaurants, but only new applications. However, the state Liquor Authority doesn’t always strictly enforce the rule.
“Unfortunately, it’s done on a case by case basis,” Assini said. “We’ve been constantly after them to tighten up their application” of the rule.
A spokesman for the state Liquor Authority said the language of the rule allows the agency to consider other factors, such as traffic and economic impact of a proposed restaurant/bar seeking a liquor license.
Erawan opened in August 1999 at 42-31 Bell Blvd. in Bayside, and Lim is co-owner of eight restaurants in Manhattan and Queens, as well as one in Israel. Bruccoleri opened Papazzio’s at 39-38 Bell Blvd. in Bayside in July 1988.
The SLA hearing was slated for May 21, 11 a.m., at the agency’s offices at 11 Park Place in Manhattan. The agency will accept written testimony from members of the public who cannot attend the hearing, but only until May 28 at 3 p.m.
Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.