By being responsive to community concerns, Roulette, the new not-for-profit avant garde performing arts space on Atlantic Avenue, has won approval from Community Board 2 for its liquor license application.
At the Health, Environment and Social Services committee meeting Wednesday night, the committee approved the liquor license without question or comment.
At the end of July, the venue, which has been operating in Manhattan for 33 years but moved into the over the summer, was , and several community members said they feared potential rowdy, drunken parties held at the space, which is set to open September 15.
Many of these fears stemmed from concerns about the forthcoming Barclays Center at Atlantic Yards, with residents worried the large stadium crowds would inevitably bring loud sports bars and clubs to the now peaceful neighborhood. While several stated they trust Roulette to keep parties under control, many were worried about Roulette renting out the space to strangers for private parties and events, especially since the space, which fits up to 600 people, is so large.
Since then, Roulette has been working with the community board to create a list of stipulations to ensure that these out-of-control parties will not take place.
“There are a lot of things we say that have already been stated, such as the fact that we aren't going to be allowing regular patrons or people from the street [to buy drinks], said Sarah Scandiffio, the director of special events at Roulette. “The alcohol will be conserved to people attending the concerts, and we have to shut down by midnight, Monday through Saturday, and by 11 p.m. on Sunday.”
Scandiffio added that the private events will be produced in-house, and that Roulette staff will always be present at the events.
“Roulette will always be there,” she said. “There will always be somebody watching out.”
John Dew, Community Board Chairman, said that the concern involving Roulette may largely be due to the fact that representatives of Roulette weren't prepared for their first board presentation.
“At the first meeting the presenters couldn’t answer the questions. They didn’t bring counsel,” said Dew.
Dew is now more confident with Roulette's intentions.
“In the interim, we got the stipulations that we felt addressed these issues,” he said.
Almost no residents showed up at Wednesday's meeting, though several have voiced support of Roulette in the past. Concerns appear to be fading.
“I’m grateful that they’re there,” said Karen Zubulon, board member of the Atlantic Avenue Local Development Corporation, when residents first started expressing concern. “They just want to serve a glass of wine at intermission just like BAM or any other theater does.”
While Howard Kolins, President of the Boerum Hill Association, admitted to concern about Roulette's private events, he always backed the institution.
"The Y is a wonderful organization that has been there for a long time,” he said. “I agree with Martha Kamber at the Y that Roulette is a terrific choice.”
Roulette's quest for a liquor license is not over yet. The committee’s recommendation still has to be approved by the executive committee and the Community Board before going to the State Liquor Authority.
But Roulette looks forward to incorporating alcohol into their venue.
“It’s a tough time for non-profits,” Staley said. “We need to have other revenue sources, and this is one of them.”