Friday, March 1, 2019

Brother Jimmy's Heading To La Marina?

Locked Up. La Marina’s liquor license was placed on emergency suspension by the State Liquor Authority in December.  In a desperate attempt to try to re-brand themselves and hold on to the controversial Parks Department concession, La Marina owners are attempting to install Jimmy Goldman,  the owner of the Brother's Jimmy's restaurant chain as an operator.  Jerold Tenenbaum is a long-time lawyer for Mr. Goldman. (Photos: By Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates) Click on images to enlarge.  

In December Community Board 12  issued a strong condemnation of the owners when they unanimously passed a resolution to terminate the Parks Department concession license and the SLA to revoke the liquor license.    Jerold Tenenbaum and Josh Rosen hope to re-open in May.  Parties were in Bankruptcy court this week. 


By Geoffrey Croft

In a desperate bid to hang on to the Parks Department concession La Marina owners are scrambling to bring in another operator, ostensibly to run it legally,  after being shut down by State authorities in December.

The move would install Jimmy Goldman, a long-time legal client of La Marina co-owner Jerold Tenenbaum to run the controversial business. 

Mr. Goldman is owner of the Brother Jimmy's restaurant chain.  The re-branding would include a name change - Brother Jimmy's Riverside.

His company,  ACC BBQ, has been retained by La Marina to develop a "family-friendly BBQ and seafood restaurant," according to documents reviewed by NYC Park Advocates. 

"On behalf of the owners of La Marina, ACC will develop and operate a full-service affordably locally sourced restaurant with a menu consisting of quality BBQ fresh seafood and family friendly food."

The proposal states that food items will be locally sourced from upstate farms located with in Hudson Valley and will include organic free range fare.

The owners have been making the rounds over the last few weeks, meeting with community board members and elected officials in an effort to drum up support. 

The scheme to retain the current licensee holders Manhattan River Group's Josh Rosen and Jerold Tenenbaum is being met with strong resistance from the local community who say they have had to endure six years of lies, broken promises and an operation that created a nightmare for area residents.

The proposal comes after Community Board 12 strongly denounced the Manhattan River Group operation. In December the board unanimously passed a resolution to terminate the Parks Department concession license and the SLA to revoke the liquor license.  

If approved the operation would bypass the Franchise and Concession Review Committee (FCRC) and assign the license to Mr. Goldman.  

Critics are demanding new ownership. Many area residents are furious that Mr. Rosen and Mr.  Tenenbaum have refused to take responsibly for their actions, and instead have singled out Fernando Mateo as the root of the problems.

A letter fired off by local residents to Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver before a meeting this week did not mince words.

"Josh Rosen and Jerold Tenenbaum have operated the current concession since opened in 2012 are attempting to remain owners under the new plan.  The current proposal is a direct contravention to December’s vote,"  Nancy Preston Executive Committee Moving Forward Unidos wrote. 

The grassroots,  multicultural public interest group focuses on quality-of-life issues in upper Manhattan has been demanding the city hold the MRG's concession operators accountable since 2013.

"The community will not support any arrangement whereby any MRG partner...retains any ownership stake in any entity that holds the Parks concession,  this was reflected in a December 2018 CB12 resolution," the letter states.

"The concession must be either terminated or temporarily assigned to a new licensee, with no MRG affiliation,  and if assigned an interim arrangement can be made followed by a new RFP.

One of the major reasons why we are in the situation is because of the Department of Parks and Recreation’s refusal to enforce the existing laws and the terms of their own concession license with MRG. This was aided by irresponsible support from various elected officials and from the prior make up of the community board."

Residents were infuriated when La Marina partner Josh Rosen showed up and introduced Jimmy Goldman as the heir apparent at a recent community board meeting.

The group called the move "insulting."

"MRG has caused much damage as operators in the community," the letter stated. 

"We do think there is value in not having the concession closed for several seasons while an RFP makes its way through the process, especially if a reputable operator comes in.  However, this should not be tied to the current operators.

One MRG partner leaving does not fix the issue."

Owners claim Fernando Mateo was removed from the business.

Mr. Rosen recently told the community board that the Brother Jimmy's plan would, "move La Marina a little bit more towards a family friendly oriented restaurant away from the larger crowds and the party scene that we feel that is (sic) probably the community has not been happy with in the past.”

Goldman's company, ACC BBQ,  has been retained by MRG to develop a new concept for the site.  His company would enter into a management contract with MRG.  The terms include ACC BBQ retaining 49% of the stock, with MRG owning the remaining 51% while ACC would own 100 percent of the voting rights according to a source familiar with the plan.

ACC BBQ and it’s associates presently own and operate establishments in New York City west palm beach Florida and the Caribbean and operate two other Brother Jimmy locations in New York City.

La Marina owners face several challenges.

They are awaiting a hearing on multiple SLA violations, some dating back two years. 

La Marina’s liquor license was placed on emergency suspension by the State Liquor Authority in December after a series of incidents including the arrest of an employee for drug sales. 

In July La Marina was shut down after receiving more than 90 violations after an inspection.

The stage and beach area this week, at the shuttered La Marina

This is the second consecutive Parks Department concession at that location which had to be closed down by authorities. 

La Marina representatives have been having private meetings with the State Liquor Authority, and according to MRG's lawyer, they are near to working out a deal.  

"We are also close to a potential resolution with the State Liquor Authority that will allow reopening with a liquor license as well," said Brian J. Hufnagel, attorney for debtor MRG.   

"We've had discussions with them. They're very far along. I can't say we have a deal until everything kind of falls in place, but that's been taking place as well," Mr. Hufnagel said. 

Hufnagel is also a lawyer in Mr. Tenenbaum's law firm.      

No settlement offers have been made by MRG according to a source familiar the proceedings. Any settlement offer would be heard by an Administrative law judge and have to be approved by the Full Board at a public hearing.

"This matter is not resolved and a hearing date has not been scheduled,"  an SLA spokesman told A Walk In The Park.   "Any potential settlement would have to go to the Full Board of the SLA."

One plan to return the liquor license involves Jimmy Goldman requesting to amend the license from the SLA so that his name,  not MRG’s,  would be on the liquor license under a "management contract,"  according to a source familiar with the situation.

An alternative plan involves MRG voluntarily surrendering their license to the SLA and then  Mr. Goldman would apply for a seasonal beer and wine license or a liquor license while operating the concession under his own group for the 2019 season.   


In December MRG filed for bankruptcy in the US Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York (Case 18-14125-SHL) NYC Park Advocates first learned.  

MRG owes more than six hundred thousand dollars to creditors including more than 
$ 220,000 dollars in back rent to the city. The Parks Department is single largest creditor has not yet filed a claim for their back rent yet according to the city's lawyer. 

La Marina owes money totaling more than $ 116,000 to people who put down deposits for at least twelve events including weddings. 

The IRS also has a "large claim,"  against MRG according to MRG's lawyer.

"The Internal Revenue Service has filed a large claim in the case, but it's based on estimated taxes for periods where returns either may not have been filed or may not have been correctly processed by the Internal Revenue Service,"  Mr. Hufnagel said.

Locked front gate.

The parties were in bankruptcy court on Tuesday for a status conference where La Marina representatives told the judge that they plan on re-opening in May.

"We've identified a new operating partner," Mr. Hufnagel told the bankruptcy court during a status conference on Tuesday, declining to name the operator.  

"It's a well-known restaurant chain who's operated in the city for thirty years.  I really can't disclose a name until things are final, but it's one we believe will be hopefully more acceptable to the City and to the community," he said.   

La Marina representatives continue to misrepresent more than five years of problems telling the judge that past operations have, "proven controversial over the last summer."   

During the  status conference, Zachary Kass, corporation council lawyer representing the City and the Parks Department seemed unfamiliar with the particulars of the case. At one point referring to the Marina, which makes up half of the licensed agreement as a small food concession.  

"I should point out that there are two licenses, one for the restaurant, and the other for the marina. My understanding is that the marina is a much smaller operation. It's actually sort of a snack bar," he said.

The judge overseeing the case did not have great news for people who booked La Marina for events and put down more than $ 116,000 dollars in deposits.

"There's no answer today for things like claims that you have. That doesn't mean that they're being denied, it doesn't mean it's being granted," Hon. Sean H. Lane said. 

"Our goal is to reach resolution with the Parks Department," Brian Hufnagel, counsel to the debtor told the court.  "Hopefully they love us when we come and meet with them later today."

Hufnagel said they were going to need debtors-in possession (DIP) financing loan in order to pay off debts.    

"We need to see what happens with the Parks Department as to whether this financing is going to come forward from the investor or if perhaps the existing management pays some money in, one or the other," he said. 

After Tuesday's conference hearing Josh Rosen told A Walk In The Park that he wasn't ready to give up the business citing the large investment they have made in the property and touted their own operational accomplishments.    

"We've done a good job," he added.

A few hours after bankruptcy court hearing,  La Marina owners and Mr. Goldman pitched the plan to the Parks Department.

In November MRG filed an Article 78 petition against the Parks Department in NYS Supreme Court (Index No. 160704/18). 

A list of non-negotiable terms needed for community support.

  • No Concerts, No Ticketed EventsNo Bottle Service.  These were never approved uses for the concession and led to many problems.
  • Adherence to the Hours as Stated.   Open til 11 pm Sun-Wed, and 12:30 am Thurs-Sat.
  • Adherence to the Operating Season.  May to October.  The concession license as written does not allow for offseason events.    
  • No Valet Parking. Use of the adjacent Parks Department cul-de-sac for commercial parking would require a separate concession agreement as it lies outside the premises.
  • No Dedicated Use of Public Street Parking. 
  • No Outdoor Music after 10 pm.  NYC Noise Code must be strictly enforced.  Ambient background music within the premises per DPR permission.
  • Open Obstructed Views from Bike Path.  Remove tarp that is affixed to the wrought iron fence on the perimeter of the property.
  • Greater Public Access, A More Family-Friendly Establishment Including Regular Access to the “Beach” Area.  Jimmy Goldman has shared Brother Jimmy’s menu,  kids eat free,  ideas for vendor carts,  café seating and other changes that would ensure a true restaurant atmosphere with accessible prices.  Ideas for additional family-friendly programming include shuffleboard,  ping pong,  domino and chess tournaments,  artists activity and hosting movies on the beach.
Restoring Marina Operations:  Dyckman Marina is a vital component of the concession.  The concession License Agreement between the city and MRG included a separate agreement for a full-service marina for use by the general public. 

The marina was never built.  Instead MRG operated a dock to service the restaurant during limited hours.  Most of the public services that were required to have been offered at Dyckman Marina, one of only two public marinas in Manhattan,  were not.

Installing the EcoDock.   The EcoDock was funded by former Council Member Robert Jackson and former Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer in 2012 to provide additional community access to the waterfront.  This was never built. 

 (Photos: By Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates) Click on images to enlarge. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

La Marina Drug Bust

A La Marina employee was arrested for selling drugs out of La Marina, the controversial Parks Department concession after a 5 month investigation by police. The politically connected establishment, whose owners include Mayor de Blasio associate Fernando Mateo, has racked up numerous violations as well as the ire of local residents.   (File photo:  Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates) 


By Geoffrey Croft

Add drug dealing to the long list of offenses at the Parks Department’s most infamous Parks’ property. 

A La Marina employee was busted selling drugs out of La Marina, the controversial Parks Department concession, NYC Park Advocates has learned. 

A series of controlled buys were conducted at the restaurant during a long-term investigation where large sums of cocaine, oxycodone and marijuana were purchased according to police.  

Police arrested Christian J. Mendez, 33,  of Ft. Washington Avenue in front of La Marina on Dykeman Street in upper Manhattan yesterday afternoon within the confines of the 34 Pct. 

The employee, a bar manager,  was arrested as part of an on-going undercover narcotics operation being conducted since July.

Mendez is facing 10 counts, including seven counts of Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance.

When the suspect was arrested he was in possession of 32 ecstasy pills.   Mendez has a prior arrest for marijuana possession.

The politically connected establishment as racked up a slew of violations and the ire of local residents. 

In July La Marina was shut down after a Department of Health, The State Liquor Authority, Department of Buildings and the NYPD inspection resulted in more than 90 violations.

In July  2017 the Police Department were forced to close the concession due to severe overcrowding.  

"Frankly, I’m speechless," La Marina partner Jerald Tenenbaum said in an email.  

"Christian was with us for years, and until yesterday I would have said he was a great employee. It’s very sad."

The site has a notorious past of the Parks Department allowing rampant illegal activity.  

In December 2006, nine people were arrested for drug trafficking at the Dyckman Street Boat and Marina at the previous concession. Those indicted on narcotics charges included Jerome O’Rourke a retired police officer whose family managed the marina for many years. 

Requests for comment from the Parks Department were not returned. 

Read More:

La Marina Manager Sold Drugs Out Of Inwood Bar, Police Say
Patch - November 23, 2018 - By Brendan Krisel 

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

La Marina Shut Down After City Inspection Yields More than 90 Violations

The controversial Parks Department concession La Marina in upper Manhattan operated by the Manhattan River Group LLC whose owners include Mayor de Blasio associate Fernando Mateo was shut down on Friday night after an inspection. More than 90 violations were issued by the Department of Health,  The State Liquor Authority and the NYPD. (Photos: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates) Click on images to enlarge.


By Geoffrey Croft

Welcome to the Parks Department's most infamous family concession, La Marina, where area neighbors live in dread.

A place where strippers brawl, where an employee was shot in the neck and where violence and crime spills out into the surrounding residential community. 

The controversial nightclub and restaurant were ordered closed by the NYC Department of Health on Friday night after city and state officials issued more than ninety violations.

The NY State Liquor Authority, Department of Health, and NYPD converged on the politically connected hot spot after a series of troubling incidents.  

Beginning at 8pm, authorities spent approximately two and a half hours meticulously documenting numerous violations during the business inspection.   

La Marina received 74 violation points, almost triple the number needed to trigger a shut down during the Department of Health's inspection on Friday. 

A yellow Department of Health closing notice posted on the restaurant over the weekend. 

The Health Department issued 15 Health Code violations. Evidence of mice or live mice were found in  the facility's food and/or non-food areas,  filth flies or food/refuse/sewage-associated (FRSA) flies  were found present in the facility’s food and/or non-food areas. Filth flies including house flies, little house flies, blow flies, bottle flies and flesh flies were also found.

Food/refuse/sewage-associated flies include fruit flies, drain flies and Phorid flies were also found. Food not protected from potential source of contamination during storage were also discovered.

The NY State Liquor Authority (SLA) also issued 64 violations including finding bugs in the liquor and non-working emergency exit lights. 

The NYPD issued 13 summonses including for blocked exits including pad-locked exit gates. The police also issued violations for non working emergency lights.

The police have been involved in several recent incidents at La Marina. 

Six people were hospitalized on July 7th for an undisclosed illness inside the location - later determined to be excessive intoxication. The NYPD issued violations to the concession for over serving.  

While officers were writing the tickets a man left the club, picked up his car in the valet area and drove into two parked cars including the marked police car with two officers inside. 

July 7, 2018. According to police an intoxicated,  unlicensed Brooklyn driver left the club, picked up his car in the valet area and drove into two parked cars including a marked police car with two officers inside. The driver got out and ran and was captured by police.  

The driver got out and ran and was apprehended by police nearby. Brooklyn resident Nigel Lewis, 27, was charged with leaving the scene of an accident, DWI, Reckless Driving and cited for no license according to the NYPD.  The  incident occurred at approximately 8:15 p.m. 

On June 15th a La Marina worker was arrested in an NYPD undercover sting operation and charged with serving a patron under the age of 21.

The concession is also facing several prior State Liquor Authority violations.  In 2017 La Marina was cited for being over capacity,  and not operating a year-round establishment each of which are cause for revocation, cancellation or suspension of the license.

On July 2, 2017, the licensee violated the Rules of the NY State Liquor Authority in not conforming with all applicable building codes and/or fire regulations regarding occupancy level. 

The NYPD was forced to shut down the club due to dangerous overcrowding which included overselling 2500 tickets according to the police.   One event,   Bikini Palooza was so inappropriately advertised that Parks forced a renaming to Beach Wear Affair after community complaints). 

The action resulted in large crowds spilling into the surrounding neighborhood along Dyckman St. and Broadway.   Police made several arrests for reckless operation of motorcycles and seized bikes.  NYPD also issued numerous summonses.

La Marina representatives have publicly denied the NYPD shut the concession down. 

According to the State Liquor Authority La Marina is required to apply for a seasonal license annually which they were caught violating.

On December 1, 2017 and on a continuing basis, the licensee ceased to be operated as a bona fide premises within the contemplation of the license issued for such premises, according to the SLA complaint.

One La Marina owner  said Friday's enforcement action caused the establishment to be "unfairly closed without notice." 

"No violation of the health code is ever acceptable; and we are doing all we can to reassure the Department of Health that we are and will continue to be compliant with its rules and policies,"  part owner Jerald Tenenbaum said in a statement to A Walk In The Park.  

"We plan to reopen on Wednesday with the Department's approval," he said.

The premises were re-opened this afternoon. 

Sign of the Times. 

Mr. Tenenbaum stated that it was not the kitchen but other areas of the two acre establishment that caused the business to be unfairly closed without notice. 

Community Board 12 recently voted to deny renewing La Marina's liquor license the first time since the controversial business opened in 2012.

La Marina founders Josh Rosen and Jerald Tenenbaum's response to neighborhood criticism was characterized as "everything’s great,” said an area resident who attended the April Community Board meeting and agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution. 

"They said we are not going to talk about the 10pm (music) claim and we’re not going to talk about the valet park thing. They just refused to discuss it.

People really weren’t happy with the answers. What are you bringing to us,  you just come here telling us the same stories, everything is fine nothing’s your fault. They told a grand tale of its all DOT’s fault and the police fault its everyone else's fault," the resident said. 

In September La Marina owner and Mayor de Blasio associate Fernando Mateo threatened to sue the local 34th Pct. claiming that area businesses were being targeted unfairly.     

In 2016 Mateo was caught funneling $ 18,000 dollars to the de Blasio campaign  through an unemployed Brooklyn woman, a clear violation of campaign election law. 

In 2017 it was revealed that Mateo has been pressuring officials to get his niece promoted in the NYPD.

Lack of Parks Department Oversight 

La Marina has long been the subject of community complaints regarding 
quality-of-life violations including noise, parking according to the NYPD.

Area residents have complained since the concession's full seasonal opening in 2013 contending that La Marina has been allowed to run an illegal nightclub.  Critics say the concession routinely violates its license agreement with the city. 

Residents also bitterly complain about a "bait and switch."  

As originally presented to the public, the concession was to be a welcome family and community-friendly restaurant and grounds, with waterfront access for recreation.  Features were to include a cafe with a sailing school, kayak storage, picnic tables, open grounds and lunch service “community place to eat”  as promised.  

As originally presented to the public, the concession was to be a welcome family and community-friendly restaurant and grounds, with waterfront access for recreation. What the community got instead was very different. Most of the above area became a limited-access bottle-service and hookah VIP area (where a security guard was shot in 2014).

What they got instead they say is a nightmare. The city allowed a high-end restaurant and nightclub/concert venue to open. 

The contract prohibits concerts and requires public access.  Nonetheless, these became primary uses along with the restaurant, and hours and capacity were extended by Parks without public notification. 

City ordinance typically prevents amplified music in parks after 10:00pm.  Their concession contract (Section 10.18) also prohibits any amplified music after 10 pm.  And the music is most certainly amplified. 

The City has also been accused of allowing the operation of an illegal operated valet parking concession on parks property and on adjacent city streets.  

The  large valet operation extends west past the Parks Department property including up to Staff Street, using No Standing and regular street parking spaces. 

The 2009 concession contracts for the Marina and for the Cafe do not include the valet areas in either of their premises.  The City has been unable to provide the license agreement containing the valet parking concession,   or any proof that the concession was competitively bid or approved by Franchise Concession Review Committee,   or that any agreement exists with DOT authorizing this activity. Clear violations of city law.

A large illegal parking operation has been allowed to operate not only on city owned parkland but also on city streets. 

The illegal valet operation has extended on Dyckman St. up to Staff Street, several blocks east from La Marina. 

The DPR has “gifted” the parks department land to La Marina for parking according to several city sources.  

La Marina also uses the public greenway bike path as another entrance to the beach and concert venue which people line up on.  This illegal use of public parkland is also not in the contract. The entry, and the concert venue itself, does not appear on the site plans approved by the Public Design Commission in 2011.

Several requests seeking comment from the Parks Department went unanswered.

A 2017 Comptroller Audit found the owners underreported its gross receipts from the Restaurant by at least $488,874.

Critics also contend that vast amounts of NYPD resources are directed to the private business,  man-power that could be better utilized and equitably distributed elsewhere. 

The Police are regularly assigned to La Marina to address multiple quality-of-life issues. 

"We find the volume of DOH violations scary with La Marina's 2000+ person occupancy the public health has been put at risk,“ said Nancy Preston, Moving Forward Unidos member, a group that has been advocating for oversight on the NYC Parks concession since 2013.

"We thank the agencies for investigating and taking action.   We hope La Marina will correct all the violations.    

La Marina should be restored to what the community was originally promised, a small, family friendly restaurant, snack bar and boat marina," she said.      

Saturday night closed.

Photos: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates) Click on images to enlarge.

Department of Health Violations

La Marina received 74 violation points, almost triple the number needed to trigger a shut down during the Department of Health's inspection on Friday. 

It takes three consecutive inspections of 28+ points to be closed.  0 to 13 points is an A, 14 to 27 points is a B, anything more than 27 is a C.  

Violations recorded in the following area (s), a Notice of Violation issued and establishment ordered closed by the Department of Health at the re-inspection conducted on 07/13/2018.
"Critical" violations are displayed in red.
Violation points: 74
Sanitary Violations
1) Hot food item not held at or above 140º F.
2) Cold food item held above 41º F (smoked fish and reduced oxygen packaged foods above 38 ºF) except during necessary preparation.
3) Raw, cooked or prepared food is adulterated, contaminated, cross-contaminated, or not discarded in accordance with HACCP plan.
4) Evidence of mice or live mice present in facility's food and/or non-food areas.
5) Filth flies or food/refuse/sewage-associated (FRSA) flies present in facility’s food and/or non-food areas. Filth flies include house flies, little house flies, blow flies, bottle flies and flesh flies. Food/refuse/sewage-associated flies include fruit flies, drain flies and Phorid flies.
6) Food not protected from potential source of contamination during storage, preparation, transportation, display or service.
7) Wiping cloths soiled or not stored in sanitizing solution.
8) Facility not vermin proof. Harborage or conditions conducive to attracting vermin to the premises and/or allowing vermin to exist.
9) Plumbing not properly installed or maintained; anti-siphonage or backflow prevention device not provided where required; equipment or floor not properly drained; sewage disposal system in disrepair or not functioning properly.

They had 31 points and three criticals on their prior inspection in June:

Violations recorded in the following area (s) and a Notice of Violation issued at the initial operational cycle inspection conducted on 06/05/2018.
"Critical" violations are displayed in red.
Violation points: 31
Sanitary Violations
1) Cold food item held above 41º F (smoked fish and reduced oxygen packaged foods above 38 ºF) except during necessary preparation.
2) Evidence of mice or live mice present in facility's food and/or non-food areas.
3) Sanitized equipment or utensil, including in-use food dispensing utensil, improperly used or stored.
4) Facility not vermin proof. Harborage or conditions conducive to attracting vermin to the premises and/or allowing vermin to exist.
5) Plumbing not properly installed or maintained; anti-siphonage or backflow prevention device not provided where required; equipment or floor not properly drained; sewage disposal system in disrepair or not functioning properly.
6) Non-food contact surface improperly constructed. Unacceptable material used. Non-food contact surface or equipment improperly maintained and/or not properly sealed, raised, spaced or movable to allow accessibility for cleaning on all sides, above and underneath the unit.

Read More:

A Walk In The Park - July 14, 2014