For quite some time now, a group of East Village residents have been pressuring the local Community Board to snuff out Death & Co., the dark and sophisticated bar on East Sixth street, just down the block from that old timer who sells and repairs bicycles. Like other turbo-gentrifying neighborhoods, the local scolds are fed up with the all the noisy drunkards staggering around their neighborhood at all hours, and they’ve focused their energy on less-established newcomers like Death & Co.
The irony is that compared to the area’s rowdier bars, Death & Co. is a paragon of civility: A doorman stationed outside shushes patrons like an overbearing librarian, occupancy is limited to the number of available seats, and the place closes at midnight. Nevertheless, owner David Kaplan ran afoul of the State Liquor Authority [SLA] last year and had to close for seven days, as well as pay a $10,000 fine.
The SLA has since refused to renew his liquor license, which will surely kill Death & Co. for good; the authority says Kaplan’s current method of operation is “in contradiction” with the method of operation and hours under which the license was approved. This is a reference to the strategy used by some bars that promote themselves as a restaurant to win over tough community boards, but then emphasize the booze in order to pay the rent.
However, Death & Co. is still very much in the business of serving food, and it closes so early one wonders how it even stays afloa. So it’s unclear just what the contradiction is. Now the Observer has it that Kaplan is going to sue the SLA; his lawyer is calling the ruling “arbitrary and capricious.”