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Controversial Main Street bar proposal could come to vote Tuesday

Anthony J. Sordetto says he’s received a “lot of support” from the University Heights community for his proposed Main Place restaurant that would serve alcohol and have live music – but would not initially have a kitchen.

But many nearby residents and business owners argue that the establishment is really a bar and, given the well-documented problems the community has had with college students drinking and partying, the area just doesn’t need another bar – especially one that will market to people as young as 18.

“In fact, it has become evident that what Mr. Sordetto is proposing is not a restaurant at all, but rather a teen nightclub that will be operated without a kitchen, will charge a cover for admittance and will offer live music and dancing during all hours of operation,” said attorney Charles Grieco, who represents Tucker Curtin, owner of Steer Restaurant and Lake Effect Diner; Reger Funeral Home owner Robert J. Reger Jr.; and Michael Starcks, owner of a mixed-use building.

Main Place –at 3144 Main St. –would be directly across the street from Grieco’s clients.

Sordetto insists the facility won’t be a teen center, but he sometimes will have special events for 18-year-olds.

Opposition grows for a new Main Street bar in University District

“It’s going to be a 21 and over establishment, but I’m licensed for 18 and up from the State Liquor Authority, and if I wanted to do a special event, I could make it an 18 and up event. It wouldn’t be a regular thing,” said Sordetto.

He is seeking a special-use permit from the Common Council to open Main Place, which would operate from 6 p.m. to 4 a.m. Wednesdays through Sundays and would  be a “restaurant that serves alcohol and has live music.” But it won’t actually be a restaurant until he makes enough profit from the business to install a commercial kitchen, Sordetto said.

Plan for a new Main Street bar in University District on hold

“We’re going to start and operate as a bar with a small menu. From there, I do envision putting in a commercial kitchen. I’ve already been receiving estimates from contractors,” Sordetto said. “I would like to eventually turn it into a sports bar. I feel like that would benefit community more.”

University Council Member Rasheed N.C. Wyatt introduced the resolution, which likely will come up for a vote by the Common Council on Tuesday. It was send to the Council without a recommendation from Wyatt or the committee that considered it.

Grieco said the special-use permit should be denied because Sordetto did not completely fill out the application, and there are too many unanswered questions regarding the plan. He said there are virtually no details about the nature of the operation and no supplemental information to support what he described in the application as a restaurant.

For instance:

  • What steps will Sordetto take to ensure no underage patrons are served alcohol? In an Oct. 10 meeting with the University Heights Collaborative, Sordetto said people under 21 would be provided special wristbands to tell them apart from the legal drinkers. That information was not included in the special-use permit application and was not stated in a prevoius public hearing.
  • What steps does the applicant propose to control noise?
  • Will security be provided?

Without such information, “the Common Council simply cannot make the detailed factual findings it is required to do so as to ensure that this establishment will not negatively affect the neighborhood or become a public nuisance,” Grieco wrote in documents submitted to the city. In fact, he added, all available evidence indicates that the proposed use would be seriously detrimental to the neighborhood.

Also, there is not a completed Environmental Assessment Form that enables the Council to evaluate potential adverse environmental impacts. Without the EAF, the Council is “legally prohibited issuing a special-use permit, Grieco wrote.

Under the city’s new Green Code, the special-use permit application must be carefully scrutinized and well-supported, but "unfortunately, neither of these have been the case with respect to this application to date,” Grieco wrote.

The Council will meet at 2 p.m. Tuesday on the 13th floor of City Hall.

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