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Noise complaints prompt opposition to sidewalk cafe permit for a Long Island City restaurant

Photo courtesy of Trip Advisor/Stan R.

A restaurant serving Brazilian food in Long Island City shouldn’t get a sidewalk cafe license after residents living above it complained of loud noise and drunk patrons congregating outside late at night, according to Community Board 1 (CB 1) members.

Lucia Cruz, owner of Beija Flor at 38-02 29th St., applied for a permit to add an unenclosed sidewalk cafe with 13 tables and 26 chairs outside of her establishment. The restaurant, which is open seven days a week from noon to 2 a.m., would keep the cafe open from noon to midnight, Cruz told CB 1 at a meeting on Tuesday night in Astoria.

“I’ve never had any problems, no problems with the place,” Cruz said. “[My neighbors] never made any complaints with me, personally never came to the restaurant to talk to me.”

Cruz said the restaurant features live music with a violinist and a singer but that the music promptly ends at 1 a.m.

But several residents, who live upstairs from the restaurant in the three-story building, told the board that the music goes on longer than 1 a.m. and that patrons at the restaurant are rowdy.

“It’s not true what she says because there’s a lot of music,” said Ophelia Cardozo, who lives upstairs. “They dance and people when they’re drunk, they’re fighting and they’re screaming in the street. Nobody is sleeping on the weekends.”

Ivanka Paez lives right on top of the restaurant and said the noise is a disturbance to her 4-year-old son and family who go to work and school. Many of the tenants do not speak English, and Paez said she was at the meeting to represent them.

“The music is too loud,” Paez said. “I have a 4-year-old and I have father who is recovering from a stroke in the brain and all the smoke and all the marijuana that’s outside from all the drunk people, all the smoke goes up through the windows.”

Paez said the music does not stop until 3 or 4 a.m. on some days and that tenants can feel the vibrations from the music in their apartments.

“If she’s going to have a cafe outside, if they’re going to start smoking, more smoke is going to go in. That’s the health of my family and my kid,” Paez said.

She added that her family has called 311 and the 114th Precinct several times but that by the time officials show up, the fighting and noise has stopped.

Kimberly, a college student who lives upstairs, also said she has a problem with the music at night and added that patrons smoke and do drugs outside of the restaurant.

“I have nothing against your restaurant,” she said. “The noise is a big problem. I recently called Saturday to ask them to lower the music and they said no problem. Then two hours or three hours later that’s when the sound went down at like 5 in the morning. That affects me because I have to go to school the next day and I wake up at 6 [a.m.] so I don’t really have enough sleep.”

Pauline Jannelli, chair of the consumer affairs committee, also read aloud a comment sent to her by a resident who asked the board not to approve the license “due to there being fights, drugs used outside of the bar and restaurant.”

“This is not a family restaurant, it’s a bar,” the resident said. “There’s lots of alcohol and drugs being used until past 4 a.m. The building is always complaining.”

The board unanimously voted to recommend that the Department of Consumer Affairs deny the sidewalk cafe license application.

“I’m really, really surprised,” Cruz said. “I don’t know what to say because I never had a fight there. I never saw it and I’m there almost every day. I [made] a nice place. Before, years ago I heard it was not a good place but I changed that place. The neighborhood changed a lot with what I did in that place.”

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