Sunday Brunch, Sidewalk Dispute Simmers in Brooklyn

A Williamsburg community board member says sidewalk cafes block the way to church

Friday, Apr 20, 2012  |  Updated 10:37 AM EDT
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Some community board members in Williamsburg want officials to start enforcing a city law banning outdoor cafes from opening sidewalk dining to patrons before noon on Sundays.

Tom Burrows, chairman of Brooklyn Community Board 1's Public Safety Committee, told The New York Post the sidewalks should be kept open for people walking to church or anywhere else on Sunday mornings, as well as to keep loafers from hogging the space.

Outdoor brunch is a favorite pasttime in Williamsburg, especially during the summer, and restaurant owners aren't too keen on the idea of cutting back their hours.

Gino Kutluca, owner of Lokal Bistro, which Burrows accused of being among the worst sidewalk offenders, said he'll fight to keep his outdoor tables open early. His restaurant serves weekend brunch from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Burrows also accused Five Leaves of taking up too much sidewalk space. Camilo Fuentealba, a host at the restaurant, also bristled at the suggestion of enforcing the obscure ordinance.

"What happened to ‘excuse me’ if the sidewalk’s blocked?” Fuentealba told the Post. "I’m not in favor of them taking the benches out. It’s nice that people are able to sit on the sidewalk and drink a coffee. It’s community-friendly."

The city Department of Consumer Affairs told the Post it would oblige the community board and check out the cafes that host sidewalk patrons before noon on Sundays.

Those eateries could face fines and possibly lose their sidewalk permits if officials find them to be in violation of the law, the Post reported.

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