It was a hollow victory for Budin, Greenpoint Avenue’s Scandinavian cup-of-all-trades coffee shop, at Community Board One’s (CB1) meeting Tuesday night.
While their license to serve wine and beer in the establishment was approved, the board is restricting that service to the indoor space – hence Budin’s backyard is off limits as per CB1’s recommendation.
“The main thing is that we got the board to discuss the issue and to understand that we are in fact a classy establishment,” said Crystal Pei, one of the co-owners of Budin. “We really are concerned about the well being of all residents and we hope now that we can in fact prove to the rest of the people that we are a classy establishment.”
Tuesday’s narrow majority vote against Budin follows months of talks, wrangling and negotiations primarily between the owners of the coffee shop and a group of residents on Milton Street whose homes overlook the establishment’s backyard.
Just before it opened earlier this year the coffee shop had applied for a full liquor license – primarily to serve Scandinavian specialties that would recreate the coffee shop atmosphere the owners had experienced on their research trips throughout the region – however in light of continued vocal disapproval from the same group of Milton Street residents, the board voted down that application and the State Liquor Authority (SLA) in turn denied it as well, despite approval by the board’s SLA Review Committee.
This time around too the same group of residents brought forth their concerns before the Board. While the group as a whole said they were not opposed to the coffee shop, their chief complaint lay with the use of its outdoor space.
Residents expressed concerns about noise, partying, and the proximity of kids living in the Milton Street residences to patrons of the coffee shop drinking in the backyard.
“Our tranquil quality of life will be disrupted and our safety will be jeopardized,” said Diane Binienda, who has lived on Milton Street for over 30 years, and whose home directly overlooks the coffee shop’s backyard. “We will have strangers looking up at us all the time. I’d like to see the business succeed, but not at our expense.”
The Budin owners in turn had gone beyond the CB1 SLA Committee’s stipulated requirements on closing times – and agreed to close two hours early – at 9 p.m. each night.
But the use of the backyard remained a bone of contention for the Milton Street residents, and the two parties were unable to come to an acceptable accord.
The SLA still has the final say on the matter. CB1’s vote is merely a suggestion. Until then, Budin’s fate continues to hang in the balance, and its continued attempts to create a unique Scandinavian experience for Brooklynites remains on standby.