There is no ‘War on Brunch’ in Williamsburg

For the past month or so, a couple newspapers owned by some Australian dude have been publishing stories about how there is a “War on Brunch” in Williamsburg and Greenpoint, a tet offensive that was reportedly launched at the behest of Community Board 1 because of residents complaining about how outdoor seating and people lined up outside cafes on weekends is clogging up sidewalk space. However, according to Tom Burrows, the chair of the Community Board 1 public safety committee, which covers sidewalk café permits in addition to criminal matters, “there is no war on brunch in Williamsburg and Greenpoint—this is a way of selling papers.” About a month-and-a-half ago, Burrows noted at a committee meeting that some residents were complaining about patrons of Five Leaves—which is located on the corner of Bedford and Nassau—taking up a lot of sidewalk space on weekends. However, Burrows wasn’t looking to target just one establishment and says, “this is not a war, it’s about everyone following the rules.” Burrows says the Department of Consumer Affairs should fairly enforce the law and, “I know everyone breaks the rules but, if that’s the case, then let’s get rid of the rules.” According to Mieszko Kalita, the owner of Beata Delicatessen and a small-business owner in Greenpoint for more than two decades, “the Brooklyn Paper published a story that was made up.” Kalita adds: “The people who want to change rules about sidewalk cafes can contact their elected officials….I’ve been in this business for 24 years and 5 days, and I understand that the neighborhood has changed greatly during that time.” There is, perhaps, a larger issue at play here, as there are several establishments in North Brooklyn that have outdoor seating without even having permits for them. Pictured above, a crowd outside Five Leaves yesterday; a manager who answered the phone at the establishment yesterday said he could not comment on the matter.

9 Comment

  • Please tell Brownstoner to publish the full stories on their RSS feed!

  • Oh, so there’s no war on brunch because Tom Burrows says there isn’t? Yes, in fact there is. This man is out of control. He’s used his perch at CB to harrass local establishments for a long time now. There are dozens of blue laws on the books that go unenforced. It’s ridiculous for him to say that he has no choice but to be stickler. He has abused his position and should resign.

  • i went over to williamsburg yesterday for the flea and can definitely understand the people against some of this outdoor seating stuff. i wouldn’t say it’s the sidewalk tables that are the problem, but the people standing, yelling, talking way way above “outside voice” levels, not moving for anyone, smoking, horsing around that are the issue.

  • As pesky and annoying as rules and regulations are, they need to be followed, even in Williamsburg. It’s an outrage, I know.

  • If there is a War on Brunch, Brunch is winning!

  • Tet Offensive?—Sh!t that Brownstoner says and Brooklyn gentrifiers don’t respond to. I am at a loss for words to express my contempt for the notion that hipsters subjected to sidewalk café limitations, or residents suffering with unwelcome crowds, could portray their “hardship”—even metaphorically—as equivalent to the casualties and devastation of the Tet Offensive.

  • I agree that crowds like the one above are annoying. I wish Five Leaves would take cell phone numbers of people in their queue and text them when their table is available. This seems to be common practice at popular restaurants in other neighborhoods (Buttermilk Channel, Prime Meats, Al di La come to mine). Hell, Five Leaves owns a bar across the street that is closed on Sundays. They could be selling all those people on the sidewalk bloody marys and mimosas for the hour plus they are waiting.

    • Every time I have been to five leaves and there was a wait I have been offered to wait at Nights & Weekends by the host. It’s great, try brunch there some time too. He came and grabbed us and took us back to Five Leaves. Perhaps it gets jammed at N&W but they at least try in that respect – and the drinks across the street are soo good.

  • The Department of Consumer Affairs behave like the mafia. What right do they have to charge exorbitant fees to allow a cafe to have outdoor seating? Private landlords are responsible for repairing their sidewalk and shoveling their snow. If somebody trips and gets hurt, it’s the landlord who gets sued. Outdoor seating should be a landlord/tenant issue only. Why the hell should the city profit from something that costs them absolutely nothing but costs private landlords plenty?