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.”

Continue reading

Advertisements

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.”

Continue reading

Cops issue summonses for underage drinking at First Avenue lounge

Mar17 Visana

Visana, a pizzeria in front and cocktail lounge in back, on First Avenue (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Visana, the First Avenue speakeasy style cocktail lounge that’s previously drawn the ire of neighbors due to nighttime noise, had the 13th Precinct’s commanding officer seeing red recently after officers issued seven summonses for underage drinking.

Deputy Inspector Brendan Timoney said the 13th Precinct will be taking a more active role with regards to disruptive patrons at Visana after those incidents, which occurred at the end of February.

“We’ve been on top of them lately but that was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” Timoney said. “(Visana owner David Jaffee) was crying out in the street saying they didn’t want this to happen but they advertised a party that night. They knew this would happen when they packed the place.”

Jaffee and his partner Ross Rachlin have been at a number of meetings of the 13th Precinct Community Council in the last few months but were not present this Tuesday as Timoney addressed community members.

Area residents, who were at the meeting to find out if progress had been made in keeping the bar under control, praised the police officers who have responded to the scene in dealing with the drunken crowds.

Visana recently failed to get the support of a Community Board 6 committee in its hopes for renewal of its liquor license. The business has an upcoming hearing with the State Liquor Authority regarding charges on noise and license issues.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

First Ave. lounge cited for noise is trying to renew liquor license

Visana, a speakeasy style lounge that’s also a pizzeria (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Visana, a speakeasy style lounge that’s also a pizzeria (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Visana, the new speakeasy style cocktail lounge on First Avenue that’s also a pizzeria in front, will be seeking the blessing of Community Board 6 for a renewal of its liquor license on Thursday.

However, as Town & Village has previously reported, the new venue, across from Stuyvesant Town, has managed to draw the ire of neighbors due to nighttime noise.

In November, cops at the 13th Precinct told neighborhood residents who’d complained about noise they’d be following up with the owner David Jaffee on that issue.

“The educating part has come and gone so we’ll deal with it accordingly,” said Detective Ray Dorrian at the time.

He’d also since then been slapped with charges by the State Liquor Authority over the noise complaints.

Another potential obstacle for the business is that too many licenses have been issued in the area already. The SLA generally only allows three full liquor licenses within 500 foot radius of one another, but according to a spokesperson for the agency, there were already three when Visana applied, but didn’t disclose this.

Continue reading

First Ave. lounge still noisy, say neighbors

Deputy Inspector Brendan Timoney (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Deputy Inspector Brendan Timoney (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Attendance at the first 13th Precinct Community Council meeting of 2016 was surprisingly high considering the event was on Tuesday, a bitterly cold evening.

But residents who live on First Avenue at East 18th Street above Visana, the relatively new pizza place that becomes a lounge at night, were motivated by what they complained is excess noise.

There have already been a couple of community council meetings in recent months to complain about the noise from this space. One resident was at the meeting this week with similar complaints, noting that on one recent evening, it was particularly loud because a party bus was parked in front of the establishment.

Owner David Jaffee, who has said previously that he wants to work with the community to resolve any ongoing issues, was at the meeting and said that this was the first time that there has been a party bus parked outside the business. Jaffee argued that he and his business partner are responsive to residents in the area but he noted that the resident who was at the meeting never reached out to him at the time to complain about the issue.

“We try to be proactive,” he said. “I went outside and spoke to the driver but the driver refused to move.”

But the precinct’s commanding officer, Deputy Inspector Brendan Timoney, who has held meetings with Jaffee on this issue in the past, wasn’t satisfied with the owner’s attempts to mitigate the noise problems.

Continue reading

Neighbors complain about noise from First Avenue cocktail lounge

Lieutenant Steven Lebovic at Tuesday’s 13th Precinct Community Council meeting Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Lieutenant Steven Lebovic at Tuesday’s 13th Precinct Community Council meeting (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel 

After hearing complaints about ongoing noise from new pizzeria/cocktail bar Visana from neighbors, police said that they would step up their enforcement regarding noise infractions.

This was at the most recent 13th Precinct Community Council meeting on Tuesday when neighbors of Visana, who live above the business as well as next door complained about the noise and crowds outside the place. Visana opened at 321 First Avenue at the end of September, in the space formerly occupied by Adriatic restaurant.

“My life there has always been quiet,” said Jorge Rios, who has lived directly above the space since 1970. “Restaurants have always been quiet but now that business changed the whole picture. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday is fine but Thursday through Saturday I can’t sleep until 4 in the morning.”

Another resident at 321 said that one of the reasons for the excessive noise seemed to be the crowds of people gathered on the sidewalk outside the building.

“On Saturday, the noise was incredible and people couldn’t walk from 18th to 19th without walking into bike path,” said the resident, who didn’t want to give her name. “People were walking into the street and almost getting hit by bikes to avoid the crowds.”

Continue reading

Robberies, K2 busts up in 13th Precinct

Cops also address noise complaints at new First Avenue pizzeria/lounge

Deputy Inspector Brendan Timoney giving crime stats at the meeting (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Deputy Inspector Brendan Timoney giving crime stats at the meeting (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Robberies and felony assaults have increased significantly in the past month in the 13th Precinct, with crime overall increasing only slightly, police said this week.

The crimes, which included bank robberies, a K2-related assault on an officer and attacks on Bellevue staffers, were discussed by Deputy Inspector Brendan Timoney at a 13th Precinct Community Council meeting this past Tuesday. Additionally, residents at the meeting expressed concern over noise at the new pizzeria and bar/lounge on First Avenue that recently replaced Adriatic.

At the meeting, Timoney also mentioned that a recent arrest made for K2, the synthetic cannabinoid that has started to be a problem for the precinct, especially around the shelters, contributed to the increase in felony assaults this month. This is after a man who was arrested for K2 managed to get his hands to the front of his body while he was handcuffed and punch an officer in the face.

Continue reading