The Community Board 8 meeting on Thursday was quiet, agenda items were checked off without a hitch, until, of course, the discussion turned to Fenwicks Bar & Grill.
Fenwick’s, located at 432 W 238th St., was at the center of a serious debate in Riverdale over a noise issue on the part of Manhattan College students. The bar is located across the street from Manhattan’s upperclassmen, apartment style dormitory, Overlook Manor, and is singled out as a bar of choice for Manhattan College students.
On Thursday, the owners of the pub, Joe Crotty and Ernie Carafa and manager Patrick Doherty stood before the board to plead their case for a renewal of their liquor license, and were approved.
“We just purchased a new, top of the line ID scanner,” Crotty said. “It now not only scans and verifies information, but takes a picture of the ID and records it.”
The scanner, designed to keep under aged patrons out of Fenwick’s past 10:30 p.m., was purchased on the advice of the 50th Precinct to deter Manhattan College underclassman from coming into the bar.
Doherty also doubles as a bouncer at night. He said in an interview before the hearing that students often have multiple, high-quality IDs that they use to get into local bars, that even he cannot spot.
“We want to cooperate [with police],” Doherty said. “But how can we be to blame for people coming in fraud?”
Officer Mindy Ramos of the 50th Precinct community affairs office said that the police rarely have an issue with Fenwick’s, save for noise complaints every weekend.
“I am one of the people who calls to complain about noise, and I live on Greystone Avenue,” resident Tom Healy said. “My problem is that the students are coming down from the bars up top on Riverdale Avenue past my house urinating, screaming and everything else, going to either the dorms or the other bars.”
Healy said the problem hardly comes from Fenwick’s, but instead from noisy students traveling between several bars.
“I end up having to scream at 40 kids from my porch,” he said. “And then I have 40 kids screaming back at me.”
Crotty assured residents and members of the board that Fenwick’s does everything in its power to alleviate the noise problem in the neighborhood.
“We have a policy, if they’re coming from the other bars, if they’re drunk, if they’re loud, if they’re obnoxious, they’re not coming into our business,” Crotty said. “For many reasons, for one, we don’t want that many kids who’ve been drinking somewhere else all night, now they’re on the street carrying on and walking in our doors.”
Doherty and Crotty also pointed out that they try every night to make sure that the sidewalk in front of the bar is clear of loiterers and patrons.
“No one is allowed to stand in front of our bar,” Crotty said. “If someone steps outside to smoke a cigarette, we have them step outside, let them smoke and then bring them back in. We also have cameras watching the whole entrance to our property.”
The root of the problem, they said, came mostly from Jasper’s Deli next door, which also sells alcohol to students, who then take it home to drink in either the dorms or their own off-campus housing.
“That’s what happens when you raid our bar, the kids run away, they run to their house and they have unsupervised parties in their dorms and in their houses,” Carafa said. “At least when they are in our bar, they’re supervised.”
Since classes went back in session three weeks ago, Fenwick’s has been raided every weekend by police officers responding to noise complaints.
“They wanted to send a message right off the bat,” Doherty said. “I am a lifelong resident of the community and I want to cooperate in any way in full.”