Embattled First Ave. speakeasy, Visana, closes

Visana/Pisa pizzeria (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

 

By Sabina Mollot

Visana, the speakeasy style cocktail lounge that operated behind a pizzeria across from Stuyvesant Town, has closed.

Opened two summers ago at 321 First Avenue, serving gluten free pizza in the front and cocktails with organic spirits in the back, business was rocky from nearly the start due to quality of life complaints from neighbors over noise. Police were also called to the scene over an incident of underage drinking in 2016.

In January, the business lost its liquor license, according to a document from the State Liquor Authority. The SLA cited several reasons, in a decision that was issued last November. Reasons included allowing the business to become noisy and “disorderly” enough to attract police attention, allowing dancing without a cabaret license and not conforming with regulations regarding the employment of security guards.

Meanwhile, according to David Jaffee, Visana’s owner, the business is now sold. Reached via email on Monday, he said he closed the lounge due to problems he was having with neighbors. He said he thought Visana might have succeeded elsewhere but said two neighbors in particular “made it their mission to always call police.”

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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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Santacon’s organizers deny it’s a pub crawl

Revelers at an East Village bar during a previous year’s Santacon (Photo by Allegra Kogan)

Revelers at an East Village bar during a previous year’s Santacon (Photo by Allegra Kogan)

By Sabina Mollot

Santacon, the annual event in which revelers stumble from one watering hole to the next while dressed as Santa, is apparently not a pub crawl at all.

So say the organizers in an open letter to local elected officials who on Monday, in their own letter, had asked the organizers to rein in the massive event, and publicly disclose its route ahead of time.

Santacon’s letter was signed by the group’s attorney Norman Siegel and nameless “NYC Santacon organizers,” who wrote, “Santacon is not a bar-crawl as you call it. Thousands of your constituents participate in and enjoy Santacon.”

The organizers have steadfastly remained anonymous. This letter, sent to the media via email, came from “Kristopher Kringle” and an interview with a head organizer in Gothamist would only reveal that he was a 40-year-old resident of the East Village.

The letter also claimed that the organizers had disclosed the route for this year’s event, which takes place on Saturday, to the NYPD.

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