Back in January, local resident Steven Fromhart rented the space on Fifth Avenue between First and Garfield that was last home to boutique Lucia with the intention of opening a unique wine and spirits store with an emphasis on digestifs and aperitifs. Surprisingly, however, his liquor license was denied by the State Liquor Authority, on the grounds that the shop would be too close to Red, White, and Bubbly (between President and Union) and Picada y Vino (between 3rd and 4th). Fromhart challenged the decision, but it was upheld by the SLA, and the space will be put back on the market.
In an email, Fromhart makes it clear that the potential competition played an active role in the proceedings:
"The owners of Red White & Bubbly and Picada y Vino returned with their lawyer to maintain their opposition on the grounds that Park Slope would not be served by a competitor due to the neighborhood’s 'starter family,' 'budget-minded' demographics, zero population growth, and no new significant residential and commercial development since 2008 (when Picada y Vino was established). The chairman of the SLA agreed, saying that he did not want to see 5th Avenue become a "liquor row."
"The SLA Board members stated that their official ruling was based on Amaro Spirits & Wine being too close to both of these opposing stores. The fact that the two distances were further than certain other stores are to each other on 5th Avenue (and 7th Avenue) had no bearing. The Board also did not comment on rigorous, vetted data presented regarding the true nature of residential and commercial development in Park Slope, its household demographics, and the fact that Park Slope currently has less stores per capita than Prospect Heights, Boerum Hill/Downtown, Fort Greene, Carroll Gardens, and Williamsburg. The uniqueness of the store's business concept and product base, also contested by the two opposing stores, was acknowledged by the Board."
Fromhart concludes by saying that he's working with the landlords "to find a new tenant for the storefront who will offer something unique and marketable to the neighborhood while maintaining its charm and character."