A motivated group of Williamsburg residents are fighting the renewal of liquor licenses for popular local establishments like The Randolph and Pies 'n' Thighs, as well as a planned Black Tree outpost in the neighborhood. And they appear to be having an impact: At Tuesday night's Brooklyn Community Board 1 meeting, the SLA Review & DCA Committee strongly recommended against letting those restaurants serve booze, which would effectively put them out of business.

Black Tree's expansion follows the success of their Lower East Side flagship, which opened in 2013 as a sandwich shop that earned much praise (and a Guy Fieri endorsement) for its ever-changing, locally-sourced menu. However, during the Community Board meeting, three residents who said they lived near the proposed location spoke out about what they see as Williamsburg's downward spiral. When put up for a vote, the full board voted against recommending liquor license approval for Black Tree.

These residents feel that Williamsburg has become dominated by the young and frivolous, and that it's time to push back. One member of the Fillmore Place Historic District Association read aloud from Yelp reviews about Black Tree catering to a "Happy Hour bro" crowd, and later declared that the area has become a playground for "the daughters of Russian oligarchs."

"We have a problem with what is fast becoming the next Ludlow Street," the nightlife opponent, who refused to be identified, said. The group asked the board to start denying full liquor licenses to any new establishment that falls within the "500-Foot Rule," in which no more than 3 liquor licenses can be within 500-feet of each other, unless there's a community benefit.

SLA committee co-chair Thomas J. Burrows also read a complaint from their meeting about Pies 'n' Thighs, which the committee had several issues with regarding noise and crowd control, alleging that the restaurant does "not seem to care" about what the community has to say. Reached for comment, a Pies 'n' Thighs representative reacted to all this with confusion, as their liquor license won't expire until 2017 and they weren't aware of being a discussion item. They have also complied with all previous board requests, including removing a controversial bench. (Representatives of Black Tree and The Randolph—which, by the way, serves an excellent "bottomless brunch"—could not be reached for comment.)

One local bar owner—who requested anonymity—responded to the backlash with irritation, telling us that his patrons represent the new community. From his perspective, Williamsburg's nightlife is the reason why people "from all over the country" now flock to a neighborhood that used to be "unsafe" 12 years ago.

"These bars and restaurants are the bread and butter of that neighborhood, that's why people are coming there," the bar owner said. "The fact that [Pies 'n' Thighs and The Randolph] are servicing the community by serving food, what's the problem? It's not a nightclub, it's not Output, it's not a venue, it's a fucking restaurant and people in the neighborhood really like that. How can you as one person on the Community Board represent 600 other fucking people? It's the epitome of hypocrisy. They don't make the rules. The SLA makes the rules...so who are you to change the rules?"

Community Board liquor license recommendations are purely advisory, but the SLA often defers to the board's judgement.

"This is about the need of the existing community to have a say in its own destiny against changes that have been mostly negative," a representative of the Fillmore Place Historic District Association told us in an email. Member Sunny Chapman also argued that many establishments sell themselves to the Community Board as restaurants, when they "turn out to be bars that sell snacks."

"Which people [do these bars serve]?" Chapman asked. "The working class people who have to get up and go to work in the morning and are being disturbed by noise from bars and bar hoppers? Homeowners who are constantly cleaning up vomit, broken bottles, etc. from our sidewalks? We represent people who lived here long before Williamsburg was 'discovered.' We represent the people who would like our neighborhood to continue to be livable for residents and not turned into a nightmarish 'entertainment district.'"