Sunday, June 22, 2008

Food Fight

Conflicts between hip new bars and restaurants, and the neighborhood residents who have to endure their late-night noise and traffic, are all too common. Such has been the case for the past four years with Lola, a soul-food restaurant in Manhattan's SoHo district, now in jeopardy of losing its liquor license because of disgruntled neighbors.

Props to community newspaper The Villager for investigating the situation, and finding that, in a classic breakdown of communications, all parties were misinterpreting the actions and intentions of the other. And for wisely recommending professional mediation to resolve all issues.

Initially, residents circulated a flier warning Lola would cause “diminishing property values,” “sleepless nights,” “increased traffic,” “increased tourism,” “more dirt” and “more crime.” Fearing the worst, Lola’s owners felt the opposition was at least partly racially motivated. But it seems to us the resistance was more about quality of life in a neighborhood become chronically oversaturated with nightlife businesses.

Lola is a high-end establishment that will offer quality soul, R&B and gospel music ... This is a classy place. We’re sure neighbors will thoroughly enjoy the whole experience of both Lola’s cuisine and its wonderful music.

Yet, it’s also clear that neighbors’ quality of life and right to enjoy being in their own apartments in the evenings is utterly nonnegotiable.

The two sides might have to meet halfway. We feel confident this dispute can be worked out, and that sweet music will someday play at Lola — for all to enjoy.

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