We’ve known for a while that Sweet Chick’s new Manhattan branch would be located in the space recently vacated by Max Fish at 178 Ludlow, but apparently, their new neighbors are none too happy about it. So much so that their complaints actually led the city to reject the restaurant’s liquor license application back in December, though it’s currently up for re-consideration.
Bowery Boogie reports that a petition has now been filed against the Brooklyn-based fried chicken joint by nearly all of the residents in the adjoining building at 176-178 Ludlow, largely out of concern that the place will be a major fire hazard, and result in re-directed exhaust fumes that’ll be awful for everyone else in the building. Sweet Chick has reportedly already closed off doors that’d serve as exit routes in case of a fire. From the tenants’ public statement:
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We are writing as a collective view from the tenants of 176/178 ludlow St
The residents at 176/178 Ludlow St are aware that there is very little they can do to halt Sweet Chick setting up in the old Max Fish space, which involves putting in a full commercial frying kitchen. This is what gives us immediate concern. The petition against Sweet Chick was signed by over 90% the tenants of the 30 apartments in the building as well as many others who live or have businesses on the block.
There was just an air-shaft fire at 41 Ludlow (caused by a cigarette on paper) that resulted in doors and walls having to be broken through by the FDNY to reach it.
The DOB in its wisdom feels that, as the area is zoned for commercial use, a restaurant is permissible and even though the illegality of the exhaust duct is recognized, that “it has to go somewhere,” instead of not allowing a restaurant because legal venting cannot be provided! that’s just great!
We are not against new businesses or new restaurants setting up, but we do feel strongly about those who are only geared toward catering to the party crowd because there’s money to be made, with no regard to those who live in the neighborhood.
Unclear if there’s any easy, mutually satisfying way to resolve this—other than Sweet Chick just up and finding another location entirely—but reportedly, the Department of Buildings is doing its best just to ignore the situation. Not particularly heartening given the degree to which building safety is on all of our minds right now, but it should be interesting to see how this develops.
Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.