There is no ‘War on Brunch’ in Williamsburg

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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.

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