The Battle for the Barstools May End on Oct. 19

Bob Ronan of Moon River Grill anxiously awaits next Wednesday's Zoning Board of Appeals, where a verdict may finally come on his ability to serve alcohol from the bar.

Sleepy Hollow's has been open since December 14, 2010. But ask proprietor Bob Ronan and he says it feels as if it’s been much longer.

Ronan’s long battle to put barstools in front of his bar began back in April, 2010 when he started attending a series of Zoning Board meetings to get a variance on his leased space. There were four hearings last year, one so far this year, and, he hopes, the last one will be next week.

Two doors down, the  enjoys the privilege of running a tavern and restaurant in the same space. Ronan’s lot is zoned residential/commercial which apparently limits him to being just a restaurant. While he is allowed to serve alcohol, it is for table-service only. No one can sit, or even stand, at the bar.

At the time of posting this, we had not heard back from Village Architect and Building Inspector Sean McCarthy to clarify the intricacies of the existing code.

Of course the bar without barstools hurts business. Ronan said he's not looking for Moon River be a late-night venue or feature live music; he’s happy to be a good neighbor and close at 11 pm. But he does want the option to succeed in a difficult economy. His hands have been tied to make the most out of his business.

For Ronan, it's less about having a scene and more about comfort. “I have to yell at them [my customers] to carry on a conversation,” he said. “It really takes away from the ambience of the place.” He also cited the problem of the lone customer who might not want to sit by himself in the middle of the dining room but would prefer to be at the bar.

While the first-year anniversary of the Moon River approaches, Ronan isn’t making any party plans until the public hearing at the Zoning Board of Appeals on Wednesday where he expects a vote from the Trustees will finally come.

“They gave me a one-year probationary period. There’s been no violations, no complaints," Ronan said. "I’ve jumped through hoops and I’ve done everything their way. It just makes me question how serious is the town about growth.”

There’s a poster-board sign in the front window proclaiming the hearing on Oct. 19 at 8 pm in the Beekman Municipal Building, as required. Ronan also had to post ads in the local papers and send certified mail notices to 25-30 surrounding residents (at the cost of $3.29 per envelop).

It’s an expensive process each time and the sign in front “scares people away,” he said. “They think we’re closed or there’s a problem.” Currently there are about 400 names on the petition in his favor. “The clientele has been so supportive.” (As witnessed in abundance .)

“The village is not business-friendly,” Ronan said. “You’d think the town would want restaurants.” 

Blue October 13, 2011 at 10:44 AM
One year? Can u imagine trying to start up a new business and it takes one year to get this done. Letter of the law is different from the spirit of the law. Common sense on the board should've prevailed by now.
Gargamel October 13, 2011 at 12:03 PM
Gargamel October 13, 2011 at 12:03 PM
forget the stoolies. heres the economics. Free ice and gas cuts your costs. Having to feed el gordo cuts profits. simple.
Scott Croft October 13, 2011 at 12:19 PM
And the food is great there. Try to get a table at dusk upstairs next to the window - the view is awesome. I hope the village allows the bar stools.
Deborah Camacho October 13, 2011 at 12:35 PM
The Village should welcome and be supportive of new business, especially in this location overlooking the fiasco that the former GM plant has become. This owner has weathered the storm and they should be thanking him for doing so. Give him the barstools!!
joy October 13, 2011 at 01:04 PM
It is a nice place to eat. Worth checking out if you havent been there.
Janice Landrum October 13, 2011 at 03:17 PM
This is a no-brainer: the town should allow barstools at this great addition to Beekman Avenue!
Ed October 13, 2011 at 03:51 PM
My wife and I have eaten at Moon River Grill many times. The food is excellent. The service is excellent. This is a great restaurant. Village Hall should give Moon River Grill every opportunity to succeed. Do the right thing and allow barstools at the bar.
Lanning Taliaferro (Editor) October 13, 2011 at 05:20 PM
I've deleted a comment that made unsubstantiated allegations about legal privileges. Gary, if there's a public ruling you'd like to cite to back your opinion, please give us the source. thanks.
Gary Serina October 13, 2011 at 07:35 PM
Lanning, the part about " Legal Privileges " was the Websters Definition of a Monopoly Its a real shame you take it upon yourself to go deleting things without knowing what your talking about, and in this case, you have no clue whats going on !!!
Gargamel October 13, 2011 at 09:32 PM
Tags, you have no clue about the power of El Gordo and how El Gordo controls everything in the hollow. Secret deals only. This guy has sufferend enuf from these people
Mr Sleepy hollow October 18, 2011 at 02:45 PM
Maybe this guy should look and see if his business will really need the bar stools? He has been open for what? a year now. How will six bar stools really impact his restaurant business? If he is doing doing good food and has a nice atmosphere maybe bar stools are not the answer. but if he's going for the bar crowd hangers on who will probably hurt his dinner crowd then he should look at that also. Maybe in the end he will find did i really need the bar stool aggravation???
ASleepyBoy October 18, 2011 at 07:13 PM
The point is that he should have the ability to choose whether he wants bar stools equally with other businesses in the area. But to address your question, it is always nice when waiting for a table with friends or when waiting for friends to arrive to wait at the bar instead of milling around outside or by the door which would be the other option. Currently, not only can you not sit at the bar and wait, you are not allowed to even stand next to it. Good luck tomorrow!!!
charles cetnarowski October 20, 2011 at 05:32 AM
Mr Sleepy Hollow, You have no clue about running a restaurant!


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