Oceana Hall, a Brighton Beach venue whose late-night events have spurred complaints from neighbors, has been illegally hosting parties without a cabaret license, Sheepshead Bites has learned.

The Department of Consumer Affairs – which issues cabaret licenses – has confirmed that it does not have a license on record for the venue’s listed address at 1029 Brighton Beach Avenue. According the department’s website:

Any room, place, or space in New York City in which patron dancing is permitted in connection with the restaurant business or a business that sells food and/or beverages to the public requires a Cabaret license.

When we called Oceana Hall for comment, the person in charge of booking, who gave her name only as Jamie, at first said they did not need a cabaret license because they have a catering license, which allows them to host private parties.

She added that parties like their upcoming March Madness or this past week’s Presidents Weekend Shut Down were private and usually booked as benefits for schools or fraternities. When we asked which schools or organizations benefited from the Presidents weekend party that ended with violence, she said she would have to check her records.

She did not answer any further phone calls from Sheepshead Bites.

Videos like this show packed parties with drinking and dancing at Oceana Hall.

The city, however, has a different take on what constitutes a public party versus a private party.

Though the parties may have been booked as private, the promoters were selling tickets to the general public – which makes it public. And there are plenty of recent videos online that show concerts and parties at Oceana Hall with drinking and dancing involved.

According to a Department of Consumer Affairs press officer, the department’s legal team believes this qualifies Oceana Hall as a venue in need of a cabaret license.

“If the event is open to the public, regardless of whether a third party promoter is involved, a cabaret license is required,” the press officer told Sheepshead Bites.

Licenses are a matter of both safety and community concern. To get one, the city inspects the facility to ensure it meets fire and electrical codes, and the establishment must also be reviewed by the local Community Board, in theory to ensure it isn’t a nuisance to neighbors. (*CORRECTED)

But a nuisance is an apt description for Oceana Hall, according to neighbors. Last weekend, attendees turned to violence as they poured into the street at closing time, with a gunman opening fire and striking two women.

It’s an extreme example, but residents and community leaders said they knew it was a matter of time before things got out of hand.

Yelena Makhnin, executive director of the Brighton Beach Business Improvement District, said that things have been getting worse at the club over the past year, with more complaints to her office from neighboring residents and businesses. They say the parties break up late at night, and attendees hit the streets making noise and raising a ruckus.

“I understand it’s a business and people need to make money, but the people who live on Brighton 11th and Brighton 12th cannot be victims of people making money,” Makhnin said. “I strongly believe if they want to have parties, fine, but they have to obey the laws.”

Councilman Michael Nelson’s office and Community Board 13 has also been fielding complaints about the venue.

“I get phone calls from the Oceana buildings [across the street] about noise, and that they’re having a cabaret at night and have screaming and fighting and disturbing life,” said a staffer at Nelson’s office.

The councilman’s office is helping coordinate with Community Board 13 and the 60th Precinct to meet with the business and ease the problem.

The NYPD is responsible for enforcing cabaret laws, but while the 60th Precinct has spoken to the owners and even issued summonses on other matters, they have not issued any violations for their missing license.

A Community Affairs officer declined to comment on the matter, but Makhnin said that the local precinct has been doing a good job responding to complaints at the venue and is trying to be balanced in their approach.

“It’s a very grey area,” Makhnin said. “When the city is trying to enforce a law, right away they’re blamed for making it difficult for small business owners.”

CORRECTION (4:51 p.m.): The original version of this article stated that the establishment needed approval from the Community Board to obtain a cabaret license. In fact, they only need to be reviewed. The Department of Consumer Affairs can and does issue cabaret licenses to businesses that have been rejected by the Community Board.

The former site of Chinar at 3110 Avenue U, which once also housed Jahn’s Ice Cream and The Flame, was torn down this week.

Chinar vacated the site in mid-2010, when they moved to a new location at 2775 Coney Island Avenue. It has been empty since then.

There are no plans listed on the Department of Buildings website for a new structure on the property, currently owned by CGB Principals Realty Associates.

GerritsenBeach.net also reported on the demolition.

Click to enlarge

CompStat reports are produced by the New York Police Department on a weekly basis. We summarize the week’s statistics for the 61st Precinct reports every Friday. The 61st Precinct is the police command responsible for Sheepshead Bay, Gravesend, Kings Highway, Homecrest, Madison, Manhattan Beach, and Gerritsen Beach.

Source: Deaks760 / Flickr

Another weekend, another bungled train ride to Manhattan.

Once again, there is no Q service in Manhattan itself. However, unlike previous weeks where Q service stopped at Prospect Park, forcing riders to switch to a shuttle bus to Atlantic Avenue, and then, finally, some other train… well, unlike those weeks, things are a little simpler.

Q trains will operate between Stillwell Avenue and DeKalb Avenue, allowing an easy transfer to the N and the R. The Q train will also hit the R tracks for a bit, stopping at Whitehall Station.

These changes take effect at midnight tonight, and end 5:00 a.m. Monday.


Shot in Manhattan Beach this past March.

Photo by PayPaul

A reader tipped us off about a water main break in front of Tete-A-Tete cafe at the intersection of East 14th Street and Sheepshead Bay Road about 3:30 p.m. today. By the time we arrived at the scene, the fire department was packed up and ready to leave. They told our staff that this was not a water main break, but most likely a supply line to the building, making it an issue for Con Ed.

Water can be seen bubbling up slowly from the street. Staff at Tete-A-Tete and nearby businesses told us that their water supply is unaffected. However, the puddle is growing.

Apart from our tipster, no one seems particularly concerned about the great lake of Sheepshead Bay Road, but we’ll keep an eye on it. If Nessie rises from the water, you’ll read about it here first.

UPDATE: 6:18 p.m., The Department of Environmental Protection is on the scene and the great lake of Sheepshead Bay Road has almost fully receded.

This is a breaking news story and may contain inaccuracies. We will update it as more information becomes available. If anyone has more information or additional photos, please send them to tips (at) sheepsheadbites (dot) com.

The signs for Cafe Apple Grill went up Tuesday, giving neighbors the first sight of what will replace Chipp Neapolitan Pizzeria at 2971 Ocean Avenue.

Reader James Griffin snapped the photo and tipped us off to the new sign, and asked that we throw in a plug for his new website www.shuttereuphoria.com. So… www.shuttereuphoria.com, www.shuttereuphoria.com, www.shuttereuphoria.com!

That’ll be $250, Griffin…

Chipp Neapolitan Pizzeria, which was co-owned by Lenny “The Russian” Veltman of Donald Trump’s The Apprentice, closed in October after only seven months. We spotted the for sale announcement on Craigslist in June. At that time, co-owner Rus Gor told us that a dispute between the partners led to the sale.

After it sold we stopped by, and Gor and Veltman were both there with the new owner – who told us it would be a Russian-Uzbeki restaurant.

Now we’ve got Cafe Apple Grill, and we can spend the next few weeks until it opens wondering if it’s a cafe or a grill.

Oh, and www.shuttereuphoria.com.

The following is a message from our friends at the Shorefront YM-YWHA of Brighton-Manhattan Beach:

Part of the Murrow High School's back wall, as seen from the street.

Commuters have been assaulted by graffiti splattered along the back wall of Edward R. Murrow High School (1600 Avenue L) for almost as long as the school has existed. But cleaning it up has been a multi-year effort pitting the school against the MTA.

For starters, the cleanup of Murrow High School’s graffiti-covered wall could cost the school an unnecessarily large sum of cash, according to the school’s principal, Anthony R. Lodico. The MTA refuses to allow access to school officials — and says they must pay inflated prices to the agency’s contractors if it wants the job done.

Founded in 1974, the high school and its back wall have been the center for conflict and controversy for about two decades, according to Lodico. This graffiti has even survived the wear and tear of time and New York’s drastic weather changes. And, in his opinion, one of the biggest ongoing issues the school faces is not budget cuts or classroom sizes, but trying to get the wall cleaned up.

“It has been an uphill battle that we have not won,” he said.

Continue Reading »

Joseph S. Reisman is inundated this week with tax forms. Or is he? Source: Matteo.Mazzoni / Flickr

Telling Tips is a series of articles from local experts to help you save money, make better decisions and plan for a better future.

TELLING TIPS: Tax season is upon us and, as such, our venerated “Telling Tips” columnist, Joseph S. Reisman, is up to his eyeballs in tax forms taking a much-deserved day off from column-writing. As I have told Ned multiple times, I enjoy editing the weekly “Telling Tips” columns, not just because it barely needs any editing, but as someone who doesn’t get math at all, and whose encephalus is wired to better grasp English and history, I learn so much from them, week after week. Reisman’s also a pretty funny guy.

You may think to yourself, “Ohhhhhh (insert eye roll)… a column about taxes, and accounting — how exciting. Not.” Except, it really is. It took me no time to figure that out and, the upside is, I glean lots of important — surprise! — tips from it. Reisman has a wonderful way of distilling down complicated subjects that are traditionally boring, and making them not only palatable, but quite enjoyable. My circuits start smoking at the prospect of being faced with long division, or having to use decimal points, so for me to like reading about college tax credits, 401Ks, and IRAs, it’s kind of a big deal.

In honor of Joe’s day off, here are five — in my opinion — pretty great “Telling Tips” columns. Joseph S. Reisman’s Greatest Hits, if you will. Enjoy!

  1. Forget Taxes — The World Is Ending!
  2. How Much Do You Cost Your Employer?
  3. The Coming Budget Battle And Tax Changes
  4. The Accountant: What Makes A Good One?
  5. When You Owe The IRS…

Joseph Reisman, of Joseph S. Reisman & Associates, has been serving tax prep and business accounting expertise from his Coney Island Avenue office for more than 25 years. Check out the firm’s website.