New manager seeks to change venue’s reputation, but residents have their reservations
Over the last decade, the space at 270 Post Ave. has changed names several times, operating as Sambuca, Avanti, 270 West and Oasis. But one thing has remained consistent—the nightclubs have remained a consistent headache for nearby residents and the Village of Westbury board of trustees, with the latest iteration of the space shut down after a gun was fired in the parking lot.
But Peter Rafano wants to change the reputation of the Post Avenue space, with the goal of transforming the venue into Icon Kitchen and Cocktails. The restaurant, which will serve American fare during brunch, lunch and dinner, will include a sports bar and on Thursday, Sept. 6, manager Rafano appeared before the board to ask them to consider a special permit that would allow him to stay open every day from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Rafano, operating under Westbury Hospitality LLC, said he was seeking an extension of his hours due to sports games which often start and end late.
Village Mayor Peter Cavallaro questioned if extended hours were necessary for every day of the week.
“This is a new establishment, you don’t really know what to expect,” Cavallaro noted. “Usually we get applications for Friday, Saturday, sometimes Sunday. During the middle of the week, I’m not sure why you need it.”
Rafano noted that the schedule would vary by season, with games on varying days of the week.
However, residents at the recently-constructed Newton Gardens Condominium and surrounding area expressed frustration with the history of loud music, rowdy patrons and disorderly conduct that has emanated from 270 Post Ave. Several residents in the condominium complex as well as neighbors near the Post Avenue property attended the Thursday, Sept. 6, meeting to voice their opposition to Rafano’s application to stay open past 10 p.m.
“The concern comes from what we’ve been through on countless, sleepless nights. We do have our suspicions and doubts and we want to be supportive but are going to be walking on eggshells at this point,” said Cross Street resident Sunny Gurnani. “We don’t want to stop anyone from pursuing their dream and having their own business, but I think there has to be a peaceful balance between residents as well as people being able to run a business.”
Meeting attendees circulated a petition titled “No Nightclub in Westbury,” which was signed by both neighbors and businessowners.
“Here we are again, with this scenario coming around again,” said Sammy, a Newton Gardens resident. “It’s new management, everything is always new but the scenario always has the same ending…We have this lineage of activity…and we have extraordinary concern about what’s going to happen.”
Cavallaro noted that the building has operated as a restaurant and bar for several years and that it was up to the village, State Liquor Authority (SLA) and Nassau County Police Department to monitor activity at the location. There are five pages of conditions, including safety, trash, noise and parking lot conditions, that Rafano would have to abide by as well.
“The property owner of this property has the legal right to lease this property…the zoning code permits the use,” said Cavallaro. “You can’t hold the sins of some prior bum who was running the place against someone who is trying to come in…if this gentleman runs the establishment he says he’s going to run, it adds something to downtown and it’s up to us to regulate the conduct while he’s there.”
Previously, the village had shut down Avanti and Oasis (both were under the same management) due to noise complaints, SLA activity, repeated police calls and promotional materials advertising Avanti was hosting a “swingers party.”
Rafano said he did not have any personal or business relationship with the prior owners of Avanti.
“It took three months to commit to the lease because [the realtor] told me about the past venue,” Rafano said. “But then I still pursued it because I’m not doing anything like that. In the past, the only thing I’ve been involved with is restaurants and bars.”
Rafano’s prior experience includes running nine New York City venues as a general manager and acting as a promotional/marketing director. He said he is not planning to have a DJ or any loud music at Icon and will do most of his marketing online. The space can hold 176 people (less than prior uses which were 220) and will be comprised of 70 percent restaurant and 30 percent sports bar, said Rafano.
“It’s completely different from a nightclub,” he said.
When asked if a shorter permit period could be extended instead of the 12 months, Cavallaro noted that the village could revoke the permit anytime they violate their conditions or repetitive issues—such as multiple police calls, arrests or SLA interventions—at the site.
The board will make a decision on or before their next public hearing on Oct. 4. Rafano is planning to do façade work over the next few months and is hoping to open Icon the first weekend of October.
Do you think Icon should be allowed to stay open past 10 p.m.? Share your thoughts with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.