Visana owners get a break–for now

Visana pizzeria and cocktail lounge (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Visana pizzeria and cocktail lounge (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The owners of troubled First Avenue cocktail lounge Visana got a break on Tuesday when an administrative law judge granted an adjournment during a hearing at the State Liquor Authority to give them time to get an attorney. The adjournment for the two owners, David Jaffee and Ross Rachlin, came despite objections from the attorney for the SLA.

Margarita Marsico, associate general counsel for the authority, objected to Judge Ann Cullen’s adjournment because, she argued, Jaffee and Rachlin have had more than enough time to get legal representation. She said that prior to scheduling the hearing, the owners no longer had an attorney but Jaffee had indicated that he would be representing himself.

“We proposed this date ahead of time and he’d had ample time to get a lawyer,” she said. “He’s had an attorney (previously) and said that this date was okay. He had ways of meeting me and getting in touch with me about this.”

Marsico added that, due to the serious nature of the charges over noise, a number of residents had come to testify and they had agreed to appear under the presumption that they would actually get to testify at the Tuesday hearing.

“I have an 83-year-old resident who’s sick who came to testify,” she said. “It’s unusual to have residents testify in a case like this and I have four who came today. I respect everyone’s right to representation but he knew how to hire a liquor lawyer to apply for the license and he acts like he doesn’t know what to do now.”

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Community Board 6 committee denies Visana’s license request

Visana owners David Jaffee and Ross Rachlin (standing) argue they’ve been judged harshly since opening their First Avenue pizzeria/cocktail bar.

Visana owners David Jaffee and Ross Rachlin (standing) argue they’ve been judged harshly since opening their First Avenue pizzeria/cocktail bar.

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Community Board 6 members objected to the re-approval of a liquor license for the problematic First Avenue lounge Visana after owners David Jaffee and Ross Rachlin approached the board again due to a mistake from the State Liquor Authority when their license was originally approved last year.

The two owners, whose new business has been plagued by complaints from neighbors about loud music and rowdy patrons following their opening late last year, appeared before the Business Affairs and Street Activities committee last Thursday night. The appearance was related to the State Liquor Authority’s realization that it was a mistake to issue the license because of the 500 foot rule, which states that if an owner wants to open a bar within 500 feet of three other liquor licenses there needs to be a special hearing to prevent residential areas from being oversaturated by bars.

The community board’s vote is only advisory so the vote did not affect the lounge’s current license or ability to stay open but committee chair Keith Powers said that the objection could negatively affect the business’s standing with the SLA.

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