East Village looks to distinguish large bars from neighborhood haunts

East Village and Lower East Side residents met last night in hopes of finding a way to restrict the location of larger bars while protecting smaller “community” bars, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The effort is a response both to the recent closure of beloved neighborhood bars, including the Mars Bar on Second Avenue, and the influx of large, rowdy clubs and bars that attract crowds on weekends bartenders call “brutal.”

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“We are losing various types of retail, and they’re being replaced by night life that can afford higher rents,” Susan Stetzer, district manager for Community Board 3, told the Journal. “We’re beginning the conversation.…Can you have districts that will have night life in one area and permit diverse retail in other areas?”

The difficulty is both defining what constitutes a large bar versus a neighborhood haunt — the city only mandates that bars that hold more than 200 people be limited to commercial zones — and managing their presence in a neighborhood that already has bars on practically every block.

Plus, the Journal noted that limiting clubs to one zone can have unattended consequences, as evidenced by Chelsea’s “club row” on West 27th Street last decade. [WSJ]Adam Fusfeld