Thursday, October 2, 2008
Community Rallies to Halt Parties at MV Cafe
Prior Event Led to Problems in the Neighborhood
By Conor Greene
A Metropolitan Avenue restaurant has agreed to stop hosting parties run by outside promoters after receiving complaints from residents, elected officials, the police precinct and community board.
Metronome Café, which opened earlier this year at 79-28 Metropolitan Avenue, drew the ire of nearby residents after hosting a late night party several weeks ago which attracted scores of patrons, including some teenagers. Numerous partygoers spilled onto the streets at 4 a.m. on September 20, disrupting the peace of many neighbors.
Residents began filing complaints with the 104th Precinct, Councilman Anthony Como, Community Board 5 and local civic organizations including the Juniper Park Civic Association and Middle Village Property Owners Association.
At that point, it was revealed that the restaurant was slated to be rented out last Friday night to a promoter for an event called “Modelz & Bottlez,” which was being advertised online and through fliers featuring a woman in a bikini top pouring champagne on her chest. The flier states that while everybody must have identification, “exceptions will be made [for underage individuals] but u will have to pay extra.”
Women are urged to “not bother” attending if they “plan on wearing jeans [and] sneakers.” Instead, the promoter clarifies, “I want to see lingire (sic) models swimsuit models runway models.”
The restaurant, which was previously a billiard hall, does not have a liquor license, according to CB 5, which has informed the State Liquor Authority of the situation. A separate establishment called Uvarara is listed as the same address and has a wine and beer license, but that is not applicable to events at Metronome.
After learning of last Friday’s party, Councilman Como (R-Middle Village) contacted restaurant owner Rick Chen, who agreed to cancel the event. However, Como’s staff was still able to purchase tickets for the event later that day. At that point, the councilman alerted the 104th Precinct, FDNY and the Buildings Department.
“Nobody is saying you can’t have a bar or restaurant on the avenue – we’re not against that because small business is something we need to promote, but what we want is the type of businesses that work with the community,” said Como. “Not one who is promoting a teen night and asking the young ladies to dress up in schoolgirl outfits.”
The 104th Precinct was also alerted to the event by Robert Holden, president of the JPCA. Officers from the precinct’s Community Affairs unit met with both Chen and the party promoter and warned them that there would be consequences if they moved forward with the event. According to a notice posted online, the event was moved to the Office Lounge in Richmond Hill after the precinct intervened.
Holden said it is important to prevent businesses that will detract from the quality of life from opening in the area. “We don’t want these kind of parties because certainly no good can come from it,” he said. “If one gets a foothold in the neighborhood, others will come in and bring drunkenness, noise, drugs and violence to the area.”
On Tuesday, Ethan Chen, whose brother Rick owns Metronome, stressed that the establishment wouldn’t host any of these types of parties in the future. He said the events were booked through an outside sales person, and the first few were smaller birthday parties. He said the trouble started during the September 19 event, which lead to the residents’ complaints.
“The first couple were okay, but then a lot of trouble started,” said Chen. “After that, we stopped the party, and are never going to do their parties again… It’s a nice neighborhood, so we don’t want to deal with people like that and want the public to know that we are issuing an apology.”
Rick Chen agreed to meet with officers from Patrol Borough Queens North at an upcoming meeting regarding bar and nightclub safety, according to the precinct.
Como added that he is willing to work with the Metronome owners to help their business grow, but not at the detriment of the neighborhood. “It’s a beautiful block, and we’re not going to help him destroy the neighborhood,” he said.
Holden credited the precinct with addressing the issue before it grew into a larger problem, and noted that this occurred near the former Red Zone bar, which was the scene of a shooting several years ago. “I commend the 104 for taking a proactive approach to head this off,” he said. “They know about the problems in that vicinity