At Community Board 8’s most recent Street Life Committee meeting, a liquor license application was revisited for Portable Provisions, located at 220 East 81st Street between Second and Third Avenues (formerly home to Alice’s Tea Cup).
The business has specialized in private catering since it opened in 2019. That’s still the focus, but owner Kat Alexander is now planning to transform it into a full-service restaurant.
Last year, Alexander withdrew her liquor license application following a number of concerns board members had expressed – the main one being potential noise from private parties (especially in the space’s backyard). At the time, Alexander wasn’t trying to start a restaurant. She had applied for the liquor license so that she could provide drinks to guests who were having their events catered onsite.
At the February 1 meeting, Alexander returned with a representative to inform the board of her new plan to start a full-service restaurant. However, her representative indicated they’d also be renting the space out for private parties, causing some concern (and confusion) to remain.
One board member kept asking whether or not private catering would be taking place at the venue, which is located in the middle of a residential block, as he stated it would be in violation of the certificate of occupancy. Some specific concerns he cited included an increase of mid-block traffic, noise and garbage.
Throughout this segment of the meeting, there was also much confusion over the actual definition of “catering.”
But the restaurant representative simply said it would be a regular restaurant but that they would close down for private parties once in a while, which he went on to argue is something every restaurant in New York City does.
“We’re not a catering hall. We would be a restaurant. If somebody wants to have a private party just like in thousands of other restaurants, we would close down and have a private party.” He went on to say “we’re going to be a restaurant 80% of the time, 85% of the time, maybe even more.”
Portable Provisions’ owner, Kat Alexander, went on to address the board (specifically the one member who showed the most concern throughout the roughly 30 minute conversation):
The application was approved, but with a stipulation that they won’t be using the backyard, and that Portable Provisions will primarily function as a full-service restaurant.
I watched this meeting streaming live. This was absolutely a disgust- the board member clearly wasn’t listening to the applicant and was extremely rude. All restaurants serve food and are able to be rented out for private parties. It’s a shame – because everyone wants the best for the neighborhood, but allowing these out of touch board members to control what is passed and what isn’t, solely because they personally might not want to dine at the proposed establishment, is abhorrent. Time to re-evaluate some positions.