BY JON CRONIN
The proposed pop-up beach party/ beer tasting room on Woodward Avenue in Ridgewood received more community criticism at Community Board 5’s last meeting.
Marcus Burnett, owner of the Rockaway Brewing Company, gave a short presentation to Community Board 5 about his proposed pop-up beach party La Playa at 176 Woodward Ave in Ridgewood. Burnett, who is also a cinematographer for National Geographic, owns the brewing company in partnership with Ethan Long. The duo started as avid home brewers and then began their venture in Long Island City in 2012, where they currently have a staff of 12.
He noted that when the state passed legislature that allowed brewies to operate five additional “farm sites” their tap in LIC became more like a tasting facility where they have ten beers on tap.
In Burnett’s presentation, he showed photos of customers. “I want you to notice in these picture the style of people who come to get educated about local beer they’re not bar flies,” he said.
He explained that they plan to open an approximately 950 square foot structure, with a maximum capacity of 75 people and will have music only indoors. He noted that there will be no DJ or live music at the location.
It was it pointed out that Burnett displayed several supportive letters to the community from Sunnyside and Long Island City, but no letters from local residents.
Burnett noted the site is properly licensed and that the State Liquor Authority considers the location to be a proper location for their business.
The SLA will have to approve their farm brewing license, which allows them to up to five locations outside of their home location. They have yet to make the site a remote location.
Vinnie Arcuri, CB 5 chairman, said there is currently a stop work order at the site and Burnett pointed out that is because of the height of the fence and the stability of the fence.
Burnett claimed the only engagement he had with someone with a negative opinion of the site was with neighbor Jon Armstrong. He said they had a long conversation and was “very reasonable.” He said Armstrong was concerned about the noise because he works at home and would like them to close by 8 p.m. He said other than that, whenever he is at the site on Woodward Avenue, “I haven’t had one person stop by opposing it,” and said he had several visitors excited about the upcoming tasting room. He added that once it is open, “It is our responsibility that [guests] don’t over indulge.”
Armstrong spoke at the CB 5 meeting, and explained that when he first heard of La Playa, he said, “’Oh cool idea. Wait a second. Where is there supposed to be?’ And then my head exploded. I’ve been against this idea from that point on.”
He later garnered, an 25 signatures to petition against its opening, “I had people tracking me to sign.”
Armstrong added, “I do wish you good. It’s maybe even a good a idea. It may not be for our neighborhood.”
Shirley, a Ridgewood resident and neighbor to the location said, “I support that your product is made in the U.S.A…but this is one product that I do not support and the community doesn’t support as well.” She told him he was happy that his small business is growing, but does not feel that he has chosen an appropriate location.
Regarding how the top of his 950 square foot structure will have sand, she said, “We have a lot of stray cats, I do not know how you will prevent that from becoming a litter box.”
She added, “We ask that you respect the wishes of the residents and find a different location. I’m confident that you will find another community that will welcome you,” and noted that noted that in the 90 minutes before the May community board meeting they garnered an additional 25 signatures to Armstrong’s petition to stop the opening of the location.
Jean Tanler, director of Industrial Business Development Maspeth Industrial Business Association of the Queens Business Outreach Center, was the sole supporter of the pop-up beach party location. She noted that they make their beer from locally grown products, aid in community job growth and are accessible from public transportation. She noted that the owners are “reasonable people, more than willing to meet with the community and work any issues out.”
Reach Reporter Jon Cronin at (718) 357-7400 x125, firstname.lastname@example.org or @JonathanSCronin