Most residents of Hudson Heights have watched with sadness as the Monkey Room has devolved from a hip coffee shop and bar run by originator Guy Pepin to a very unexceptional bar run by Jacob Sosa. Residents seem to have recently put up a rather modest fight to convince the New York State Liquor Authority to deny the liquor license renewal. Community Board 12 agreed and recommended against renewal. The Authority has apparently disregarded that recommendation and renewed the license until December 2012.
There's nothing particularly sinister about the Monkey Room. Its an average bar that attracts mostly out-of-neighborhood patrons looking to get drunk, make noise, find romance and then head home at 4 a.m. Mr. Sosa seems to be sincere in his efforts to keep his clientele as quiet, subdued and respectful as possible. It will never work, however, because that's not how bars make money.
The real question is whether a bar like this belongs in a quiet residential neighborhood that is striving to improve itself. It probably doesn't. Anyone that walks past the Monkey Room at midnight on Friday night will see patrons congregating on the street. Residents within earshot of the establishment certainly need to keep their windows closed in the summer to shut out this noise. (Tonight at 11:30 p.m., an icy Monday night in January, the bar was relatively full, quiet and peaceful.)
A liquor license is just that, a "license." It must be earned; it is not a right. We would venture to guess that a bar like this would never get a liquor license in a quiet Westchester County suburb because it would disturb the peace and quiet. Why should residents of Hudson Heights be subject to lesser protections?
Over the next two years, residents should fill the files of the Authority and Community Board with any valid complaints. In the meatime, we sincerely wish Mr. Sosa the best of luck in improving the behavior of his patrons.
Note: At least one writer from HHG goes to the Monkey Room from time to time. This writer likes a cold beer as much as anyone and particularly likes the bar's outdoor seating in the back.