Racks, which would be located at 19-26 Steinway Street, would feature bartenders and staff dressed only in bikinis. The owners are also seeking a cabaret license, which would allow dancing at the establishment.
“This is going to be a block and a half from this playground,” said Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas in Woodtree Playground Thursday afternoon. “It’s going to be a block and a half from where I walk my daughter.”
Simotas and Congressman Joseph Crowley sent a letter to the SLA stating their opposition to the liquor license application. Community Board 1 in its review also voted unanimously to deny the application.
“It just doesn’t belong here,” said Crowley. “This is a scantily-clad Trojan horse coming into our community.”
Elected officials are worried that the bikini bar will morph into a strip club, and with it attract an unwanted element to the community.
But Kerry Katsorhis, a lawyer for the owners, said his clients have no intention of turning Racks into a full-fledged strip club. He said the application meets SLA’s requirements for approval.
“There are no other places with liquor licenses even close to within 500 feet, and there’s no school or house of worship around the corner,” said Katsorhis, referring to two reasons why the SLA could deny the application. “I don’t see what [the community’s] gripe with this is.”
However, on Thursday, State Senator Michael Gianaris said there were other factors the SLA could consider, including community opposition. At a Sept. 4th meeting, Community Board 1 in its review voted unanimously to deny the license.
Katsorhis also said that if a person were going to open an adult establishment such as Racks, an industrial block on Steinway Street is one of the better options.
“There is a big truck depot right across the street,” he said. “If there is a place for it, this is it.”
“Every year the Little League kids march up this part of Steinway Street to the ball fields near Con Edison,” she said. “They are going to be asking their parents, “what’s a bikini bar?’”