The largely successful campaign to slow the proliferation of bars in downtown Manhattan has spread to gentrifying Williamsburg. Last week a small but insistent group of Brooklyn residents gathered at a Community Board 1 meeting to fight enemy #1: the owner of Custom American Wine Bar, who is seeking liquor license approval to open his establishment at Driggs and Metropolitan. Some locals have actually argued that the presence of a wine bar will increase gang activity. Also, those obstreperous oenophiles will keep them up at night with their cacophonous quaffing.
Photographer Nancy Wechter is spearheading the opposition, and she told the meeting, "I am here to prevent yet another bar from depriv[ing] us from sleep. I don’t want to be run out of my house." Committee Chairman Mieszko Kalita said, "This is the first time there has been such a roar [about a license]," and the owner of the building was ejected after calling a staffer for Councilwoman Diana Reyna “a drug dealer” and branding Wechter a “criminal.” (Worse, he called Brooklyn Paper reporter Will Yakowicz "scum"!)
Later, the owner's son explained, "My taxes have doubled from $20,000 to $40,000. If we can’t get this liquor license then I will have to open a 24-hour bodega that sells beer, and maybe even wine. Then, [the neighbors] will really get a crowd of kids hanging around." In the end, the committee vote ended in a tie, and the full Community Board is expected to vote Wednesday night.