A bar fight on Hoyt Street has been sensibly resolved with a restaurateur getting the chance to work his magic with an oyster bar.
Community Board 6 voted in favor of a liquor license for Jim Mamary, despite an all-out campaign by some Hoyt Street residents.
Mamary, a pioneer who has brought much-needed eating and drinking options to neighborhoods before they get hot, runs mature eating and drinking environments, not frat bars. One of his first ventures was Patois in 1997, the French bistro that put Smith Street on the foodie map.
More recently, he opened Black Mountain Wine Bar on Union Street, around the corner from his proposed Hoyt Street joint (full disclosure: I’ve enjoyed myself on more than one occasion in its subdued atmosphere. It’s a great place for a date or for reconciling differing points of view with an elected official who upbraids you on the way in and pats you on the back on the way out).
Before the community board finally weighed in, it appeared that Mamary’s Hoyt Street oyster bar would be brought down by neighbors who said it would spur another Restaurant Row in their residential part of the neighborhood (never mind the lack of storefronts!).
“Common sense dictates that using alcohol to attract hundreds of strangers onto our small, narrow block every week will not make our lives safer or happier,” the Hoyt Street Alliance argued. “Noise will doubtless … carry into backyards, putting a stop to peaceful summer evenings in the garden.”
Given the concerns — both legitimate and over-the-top — voiced on local blogs and at community meetings, you’d think Mamary was going to personally bus in rowdies to binge on fresh-caught shellfish and high-priced cocktails and turn the oyster bar into a saloon from a John Wayne movie.
Fortunately, the critics didn’t sway Community Board 6, which voted 18–6 in favor of the liquor license.
Will there be more noise from Mamary’s oyster bar than the doctor’s office that preceded it? Yes, but there’ll also be a nice neighborhood bar that, if Mamary’s past is any guide, will quickly become so much a part of the block that residents will wonder how they got along without it for so long.