White Plains cabaret renewals remain in limbo

By Leif Skodnick

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Five businesses came before the White Plains Common Council on Nov. 3 seeking new cabaret licenses or renewals of their existing licenses. All left empty-handed.

Citing the moratorium on cabaret licensure passed by the Common Council on July 7, the council adjourned hearings on the renewal of a cabaret license issued to Coughlan Inc., which operates the Coliseum on South Broadway, as well as applications for Executive Billiards, Ichiro Asian Fusion, Red Plum 888 and Ron Blacks Beer Hall, all on Mamaroneck Avenue, until the December meeting.

Messages for both Karen Pasquale, senior adviser to Mayor Thomas Roach, and White Plains Building Commissioner Damon Amadio seeking comment and clarification as to when the moratorium would be lifted went unreturned.

Coliseum, at the corner of South Broadway and Martine Avenue in White Plains, operates under a cabaret license. Coliseum, at the corner of South Broadway and Martine Avenue in White Plains.

With the hearing on Coughlan’s renewal opened by the council, several residents of downtown White Plains approached the lectern to address the council with concerns about the Coliseum.

“The music, booming bass noise, unruly and noisy patrons leaving the Coliseum club, usually on Friday and Saturday nights … has been an issue for the residents,” said Gail Simmering of Main Street.

Simmering was among those who raised concerns about noise from the Coliseum. Among the complaints she and others raised were that noise frequently reaches their residences in the 11 p.m. to midnight and 3 to 4 a.m. hours, keeping them awake or rousing them from sleep.

“We’re basically at the end of our rope,” Simmering said. “We don’t want any business in White Plains to shut down, however, we want respect from the establishment and help from the city to resolve the problem.”

Several of those who spoke during the hearing on the Coliseum’s cabaret license stressed that the noise is a quality of life issue for those living in the immediate area.

“ZIP code 10601 is a heavy residential area, and some of us paid over a quarter of a million dollars or more for our apartments to live in a city that has been reborn over the last decade,” Simmering said. “However, there has been little respect from the Coliseum for residents in this area, and most residents have stopped calling police because little or nothing can be resolved.”

According to Coughlan, the noise levels from his club are well within the limits required by his cabaret license.

“The truth is that there is no noise emanating from my space,” Coughlan said. A lot of the noise residents in the neighborhood hear, he said, comes from people coming or going from the Coliseum who are outside the club, on the sidewalk and otherwise in the area. “I’m required to keep it below 85 decibels and the most it ever peaked at was 81.”

Coughlan said that a large amount of the noise that residents are complaining about is part of living in a thriving downtown area.

“Broadway is very noisy, and I know this personally. I owned a co-op at The Broadlawn at 20 North Broadway and I sold it after eight months because it is noisy there and I couldn’t sleep,” Coughlan told the council.

Reached by phone, Coughlan told the Business Journal that the rapid growth of downtown White Plains has contributed to the noise.

“White Plains used to have a sleepy downtown, but now you have the multiplex and the new hotel and development, and all of that contributes to traffic and noise,” Coughlan said. “And so we have a choice, does White Plains want to have a vibrant downtown with the nuances that come with it, or be residential?”

Ultimately, Coughlan said that his business and others need the cabaret licenses to survive.

“You can’t survive in White Plains as just a restaurant,” Coughlan said. “That’s why restaurants are seeking out cabaret licenses, because they can’t break even as a restaurant because restaurants make little to no profit on food service. They profit mostly on drinks.”

It remains unclear when the moratorium will be lifted on cabaret licensing.

In the years he’s operated his business, Coughlan said he has never had a violation of any kind. He wants to see White Plains grow and thrive economically.

“My space has had a cabaret since 1970,” Coughlan said, stating that Oliver’s, which occupied the space for years before his business was opened, didn’t have many noise complaints for good reason – no one went there in the years leading up to its’ closure. “We want the benefits of the downtown, but we can’t have it both ways.”

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About the author

Leif Skodnick
Leif Skodnick is a former reporter for Westfair Communications. He is a graduate of Columbia Journalism School, Mississippi College School of Law, and St. Lawrence University.
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