The much-hyped, soon-to-open Breslin restaurant, situated in the 12-story Ace Hotel on Broadway and 29th, is giving members of the Masjid Ar-Rahman mosque across the street some agita. "Five times a day, there's a hundred cabs on the street--the good news is you can always get a cab," co-owner Ken Friedman told the Transom the other evening. He said some mosque visitors "object to seeing people drink alcohol."
After the recent FergusStock, a festival during which famed British chef Fergus Henderson cooked whole pigs for a rapt crowd of New York chefs and foodies, Mr. Friedman said the mosque's leaders called a meeting with the hotel. "They said, 'Can you move the bar?'" he said. "And I laughed. And the guy said, 'Oh, you think that's funny?' And I said, 'Yeah, that is funny, that is really funny, because we're not going to move the bar just because you discovered we're serving booze.' Can you name one restaurant in New York that doesn't serve booze?"
Mr. Friedman and his partner, Spotted Pig chef April Bloomfield, did agree to nix plans for a dive bar in a townhouse next door, but as for the restaurant, "I said, 'This is the United States of America and we'll do whatever the f**k we want.'"
He said the mosque had suggested it couldn't control the behavior of "a few bad eggs"; i.e., "we could get a brick through our window." Mr. Friedman said he made the police aware of this threat.
A volunteer at the mosque returning a call from the Transom said that a law forbids serving liquor within 200 feet of a place of worship and that "not more than 200 feet is between the mosque and the bar." To which Andrew Zobler, the hotel's developer, responded: "The law is clear that in order for that to apply it has to be an exclusively dedicated house of worship, and at their space they have both residences and a restaurant, so basically, because of those uses the law allowed there to be a bar within 200 feet. Everyone was aware of that when the liquor license was granted." He added: "Out of neighborliness and respect we've voluntarily acquiesced to covering the window with a curtain." [...]
When the Transom visited, the "doily curtain" covering had not yet arrived, and paper has been taped to the windows to shield the mosque's worshipers from the sight of a gay wedding over the weekend. "They can threaten, but they can't really stop us," Mr. Friedman said.
Added to the List.
Congradulations to Friedman for standing up to these threats. If you're in NY, show your support by visiting his restaurant.