Iron Bar Liquor License Extension Conditionally Approved

Agreement made to stop serving alcohol at 11 p.m. at proposed Gran Cantina Mexican restaurant, reduce bar size, among other conditions.

Every bar owner should not be painted with the same brush.

That, according to James Cavanaugh, whose Iron Bar liquor license extension into space formerly occupied by Zebu Forno was approved by Town Council Tuesday night.

Councilwoman Raline Smith-Reid cast the lone dissenting vote. Councilwoman Alison Deeb recused herself, citing an "in-kind" donation from Iron Bar for her freeholder campaign earlier this year during a fundraiser.

Conditions placed on the extension for a new Mexican restaurant concept include reducing bar size from 18 seats to 12, and forcing the stoppage of alcohol sales at 11 p.m. The longtime Morristown property owner said he expects the conditions will cause him to lose a lot of profit.

Cavanaugh—known by many as owner of Jimmy's Haunt, which now is the location of a TD Bank—opened Iron Bar in May. Its main floor has often been packed with revelers on weekends, and a downstairs area set to open by the end of this year is expected to add hundreds more.

Some, however, see the Town Council—which also acts as Morristown's Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission—as being inconsistent with approvals.

Just Tuesday night, a proposal by the Walsh family to extend their Tashmoo liquor license for 23 days a year to a 7,000-square-foot outdoor space behind 10 DeHart St. was unanimously denied. The council also denied the Walsh's proposed bowling alley/bar at 10 DeHart St. last summer.

Christine Conti-Collins, of 40 Park, read the council's dissention to the proposed bowling alley/bar, calling for fairness among all applications.

"Addition of another liquor establishment would exacerbate quality of life, parking, garbage, sanitation," Conti-Collins said. "Those are your words, not mine.

"Food is very nice, but you don't need to serve any more alcohol in this town," she added. "Treat every applicant fairly."

Chestnut Street resident Abby Mohr, who has spoken in favor of Walsh-backed proposals in the past, said she was not against Cavanaugh and business partner Daryl Remlinger's "Gran Cantina" Mexican concept. But, "make sure they're treated equally," she said.

Mohr cited William Walsh's Futbolandia No. 2, which was to become a bar/restaurant catering to a Hispanic clientele on Early Street, and the litany of conditions she said the council had placed on it before its liquor license transfer would be approved.

Not everyone at the meeting spoke against the plan.

Danielle DeMargo, a resident at The Highlands at Morristown Station, said she loved the idea of another restaurant coming to town.

And, "serving alcohol enhances the experience," she said. "To have a restaurant with a liquor license, I think it's a good thing."

Nick Kaslov, of Park Place, said that area of town was "all steakhouses" and welcomed a Mexican restaurant.

DeHart Street resident Ravitte Ginsburg said she feared the food part of Gran Cantina, however, would become secondary to alcohol.

"What do we want this town to be," she asked, calling for a balanced mix of urban and suburban features. If bars continue to be approved, ""

The council did ultimately request conditions be attached to the Iron Bar liquor license transfer. In addition to reducing the bar's size and 11 p.m. alcohol cutoff, they included additional security at certain times and during certain events and an enlargement of garbage storage facilities.

This led Robert Williams, the applicant's attorney, to complain about the proposed conditions.

"Eight people spoke here tonight [against the liquor license transfer,]" he said. "You had a handful of letters. This is a restaurant. Over 50 percent of the space is for support services. Why spend so much money if it was there just to sell drinks?

"This isn't an attempt to mask a bar as a restaurant," Williams said, noting Cavanaugh's Iron Bar has not had any ABC violations since opening earlier this year. "We have to have a level playing field. If there is a problem, you have a right to call them in. But, you have to give people an opportunity to be successful. You can't cut their hands off before they get in the game."

Council Vice President Rebecca Feldman said the same problems with establishments serving alcohol in Morristown's Central Business District have not changed since the council voted to deny the bowling alley/bar on DeHart Street.

"There are too many drinkers in too small an area," she said.

Ultimately, after a 15-minute recess, Williams said his clients would comply with the town's conditions.

While he was glad to get the liquor license transfer approved, Cavanaugh was not entirely pleased with how the night had turned out.

"A few people are unjustly influencing the council," he said. "There have been complaints about defecation, beer bottles. I have not seen it myself. I see more Starbucks cups in town than any other trash from other businesses put together."

Cavanaugh said in the 32 years he has been a businessman in Morristown, only one violation ("questionable," he added) had been attributed to one of his operations.

"I think the council has a valid argument with what's happening in town," he said. "But, every bar owner should not be painted with the same brush. Across several properties, I pay $150,000 in taxes a year. I don't demand much, I don't get back much. That's enough."

Fedupwithfeldman October 25, 2012 at 06:34 PM
Ok Rebecca, so why is Tito's Burritos an exception to the law? I agree with Back in Mo'Town....there is no reason that they shold be allowed to stay open after 11 if they are claiming to be more of a restaurant than a bar. This is all such a joke.
FunkyMotown October 25, 2012 at 06:35 PM
Ms. Feldman- you mention that this block's "late-night alcohol outlet density is more than saturated already". Are you implying that connecting a big liquor-licensed restaurant to the largest Motown bar (which still has not even finished its large basement) is going to help reduce saturation? Or that cutting the patrons off at 11pm is going to stop saturation?
Lisa October 25, 2012 at 06:38 PM
I support all restaurants/bars, stores, coffee places, etc in town.....I Think LOCAL and Shop in Morristown to support the businesses that all spend alot of money themselves to be in business. That's what helps a town flourish and succeed, it gives jobs, even part-time ones to people that need work. If someone spends a whole lot of money on a liquor license and buying a building that is zoned in a commercial area then they should be able to get past the town council. Especially if they are willing to comply with all additional health and safety restrictions. I go to Tashmoo all the time, I don't drink alcohol but enjoy the atmosphere and they have Great food. It's one of my favorite places in town and I know many people that would agree. I am 40 years old, a realtor in town with 3 children. We go there every friday night for dinner and sometimes later in the evening with friend. It is never overly crowded or loud and the kind of people that frequent it are nice, it is the kind of place that we are lucky to have right in the center of town. I have lived in Morristown my whole life and like to see new places open, it keeps the town vibrant and exciting. Being a Realtor all I can tell the people complaining on Community Place is that they paid way too much. The whole town shouldn't be wasting time trying to keep them happy. It is my understanding that where their building was constructed was originally zoned commercial, too bad they didn't keep it that way.
Ike Mippolito October 25, 2012 at 06:55 PM
Josh - Margaritas! Have you been to La Estacion? You bring your own tequilla and the mix they put with it just isn't the same. If the place can only serve alcohol until 11pm and only has 12 bar seats, I highly doubt it will turn ito rowdy bar with a bunch of binge drinkers. Why are you against it?
roger linden October 25, 2012 at 06:56 PM
rebecca..this is exactly why the town council should not be voting on any nj abc issues until or unless a representative from trenton can be present or at least consulted. the council can not know all of the nj abc laws, nor should they be expected to. the decisions that are being made by this council have serious repercussions for the people involved and the people that they effect. first find out if something is legal according to trenton, then ask questions, then let your constituents know what's going on, get your feedback, and then vote on these issues,\.
roger linden October 25, 2012 at 07:01 PM
@john dunphy....i believe that roots and urban are directly next to each other, aren't they? is there a storefront that is between iron bar and the proposed new restaurant? if that's the case....it makes a big difference.
Steve October 25, 2012 at 07:06 PM
There not and Dorris just blew up there spot! Thanks again Dorris for unvaling illegal activity! Yea so now all places claiming or considered to be a restaurant will have to stop service/sale of alcohol at 11pm upon renewal of license next year!!!! great job with all the bickering!!!!
Susan October 25, 2012 at 07:08 PM
More brunch options would be a good addition!
John Gesicki October 25, 2012 at 09:08 PM
Everyone should have to abide by the law! If Tito's Burritos is breaking the law by making margaritas then somebody should report them! The only exception should be that if you are best friend's with the mayor then you can do whatever you want! Everyone else should have the same set of rules.....
Motown should be fun October 25, 2012 at 09:20 PM
Good post Lisa! I wasn't aware those Community Place residences were originally zoned commercial, that makes it even worse, but I just can't understand why the Town Council is so terrified to upset such a small number of people. A bowling alley would be awesome! So many more people would be delighted to have it! Is there any possibility that can be brought back up?
Shotbaker1980 October 25, 2012 at 09:38 PM
@John Gesicki -- That comment crediting bars with supporting "hundreds or years of civilization throughout the world" is wishful thinking, not to mention self-serving in and of itself. But I'll play along here: That said, I'd be interested in hearing why, given the value to people getting together and escaping stress, you have a problem with another one opening?
Steve October 25, 2012 at 11:45 PM
A retail consumption licensee may apply for an “Extension of Premises” to extend or expand the area on which alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises may be sold and served. The extension area must be contiguous to or adjoin the permanently licensed premises. They had that, met the requirement.
M. Russell October 26, 2012 at 12:52 AM
The whole building that Iron Bar is in IS LICENSED. It is the owners option and then action of the council to determine which areas will be allowed to serve and under what conditions. The owners accepted the decision of the board with their conditions of operation. What is the problem? Fotboladia could have accepted the conditions as well. If the Morristown Bar/Restaurant owners were really smart they would stop infighting and use their collective voting power to only support and elect those council people that understand that Morristown's downtown future lies in its bars and restaurants. NOTE: 40 Park condos were actively marketed as "steps away from bars, restaurants, shopping and entertainment". So don't tell us you didn't know the area. The hospitality venues of downtown is really the only attraction of downtown. Retail can't compete with online or malls and financial institutions probably have reached the saturation level. Town council should embrace the changing dynamic of downtown and support the bar/restaurants in every way possible. PS: If you're 21, have a VALID ID, arn't dress like a thug and behave, Iron is open to everyone.
M. Russell October 26, 2012 at 12:57 AM
If you're 21, have a valid ID, not dressed like a thug and behave, I'm sure any bar would let you in. 11 pm is a condition not a problem.
Bonnie Arnold Haynes October 26, 2012 at 01:09 AM
There are two sides to the "alcohol density" argument. One is that you have a concentrated strip of bars and joints with drunks disturbing the town. The other side is that no one is driving and club hopping. At a University level, they see it as safer. It is a competent plan presented by competent professionals and I didn't see the need to scrutizize toilets and bar stools and alcohol serving hours but then I realized that this had been dubbed, the "Mayor's Best Friend," so neither could it be rubber stamped. There are some downsides to being too close to the Mayor.
M. Russell October 26, 2012 at 01:22 AM
The fire dept, square footage and egress determines patron capacity.
Bonnie Arnold Haynes October 26, 2012 at 01:22 AM
Rebecca -- and all Town Council Members - a nice young man, which to me is thirtyish, had the courage to walk up to that microphone and ask why the Town Council was so quick to extend and give out liquor licenses to places that would not let Hispanic minorities in the front door. Most of that room looked too young to remember Selma, Kent State, the Vietnam War and MARTIN LUTHER KING, but all of the people on the Town Council should be more than familiar with history. Here is a person standing before the Town Council of Morristown, NJ in 2012 and he says we are running a segregated club system. When I asked the Council and the lawyer and the other group about it, no one had ever heard that before. Baloney. I've heard it before and now, so have you. If Morristown is running segregated anything, say goodby to all federal financing. I don't know what the response was to this statement but when I regained conscousness, everyone had gone back to toilets, and trash cans. How could any true American hear this and not respond. do we want to be dubbed, Selma 2012? Could someone on the council please tell me what action you will be taking? One of your male members told me it wasn't his job. Has he read his oath of office recently. I haven't but I'm betting he commits to upholding all laws. This is a major problem. Bonnie
M. Russell October 26, 2012 at 01:25 AM
Please understand the law before you make incorrect statements. The whole building is licensed to serve. It then is up to what the owner wants to do and the approval that the town grants. It is not two licenses.
Bonnie Arnold Haynes October 26, 2012 at 01:27 AM
We should thank all of the town's business people for their commitment to this town and help make them as successful as possible. I was here in 1979 when this town craashed. It was an empty ghost town. The restaurants, professionals, location and theatre really relaunched it. But if the trash is all over the place, complain. complain complain.
Bonnie Arnold Haynes October 26, 2012 at 01:37 AM
Guys and gals - yes it would be great to have the greatest Margarita but it would be even better to have a great democracy and freedom from discrimination. If anyone has been turned away from a "white" bar, we just went back to 1952. Margarita or not. Bonnie Arnold Haynes
Bonnie Arnold Haynes October 26, 2012 at 01:44 AM
OK don't laugh because I don't say this to be funny but being denied a Margarita is a violation of the law and a human rights abuse. Ok I can hear the human rights and drinks jokes but when you are done laughing, think about it. It is the truth.
Steve October 26, 2012 at 03:02 AM
Bowling Alley project was NOT denied intellects,get your facts straight before you speak/accuse lol! It was approved with only a request to close roof at 11 or 12pm. No request from council like last night to reduce bar size and cut off alcohol service at 11pm!?! Why in GODS creation would some one actually compare a 1100 sq ft area with a 12 seat bar to a 7000 sq ft outdoor bar/area with a potential occapancy of close to 1000 ppl given the proper means of egress?!?!? I guess because they are def close in size and compacity right?!?! Valid sensible comment!?
L Sanchez October 26, 2012 at 11:00 AM
They never let me into Iron Bar because I am hispanic. They never let my hispanic friends in. I have one friend that looks white that can get in sometimes when we are not in a group. I feel sad that owner of Iron Bar can open a pretend hispanic bar only for white people.
Josh October 26, 2012 at 12:29 PM
Ike - Never said I was against the restaurant. I would actually be very happy with an authentic mexican/spanish restaurant. Just wondering why a decision for a liquor license was based on not being able to have a margarita with my mexican food. I didn't see the same argument when it came to drinking a beer while bowling. As I have stated on past blogs I am in bed long before any of the alleged chaos goes on in Morristown. And I am more than happy to patronize all good diverse restaurants in town.
Josh October 26, 2012 at 12:38 PM
Steve - If I misunderstood your post I apologize but, "The Town Council, acting as the Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission, voted 3-2 Wednesday night in favor of denying the liquor license transfer to Gracie Sunshine LLC, a proposed bowling alley/bar at 10 DeHart St. Council members Rebecca Feldman, Raline Smith-Reid and Allison Deeb voted down the transfer, while Stefan Armington and Michelle Dupree-Harris voted in favor. Council members Anthony Cattano and Kevin Gsell were not in attendance." http://morristown.patch.com/articles/liquor-license-transfer-for-proposed-bowling-alley-denied Please explain how the bowling alley was not denied?
FunkyMotown October 26, 2012 at 04:35 PM
The Community Place residences stand out like a sore-thumb...well, more like a very expensive, over-the-top sore thumb. I don't know if they are even fully occupied (perhaps they are just 2nd homes for the residents). Regardless, I am surprised that these residents were able to use the "it's going to be too loud and trashy" argument (has anyone else heard those loud yippy yappy dogs?!). Why live in a downtown area with a growing nightlife, if you are going to complain about the downtown area growing its nightlife? Is it because these residences don't partake in the nightlife? Is it the large amount of property taxes they must pay, that gives them such a loud voice? A bowling alley really would have been unbelievably exciting and new. And yes, there would be drinking; however, there would also be bowling. Bowlers are respectable people. Can the Gran Cantina add a few bowling lanes? I just want to be able to eat authentic Mexican food, drink a delicious Margarita (that isn't a pre-made mix), and bowl at the same time. That is certainly not too much to ask for...This aggression will not stand, man. I thought this was 'Murica?!?!
FunkyMotown October 26, 2012 at 04:52 PM
Bonnie, I agree this is not a laughing matter...It is criminal to deny someone a margarita based on discriminatory reasons. We need to create a Morristown Margarita Memorandum...
FunkyMotown October 26, 2012 at 05:07 PM
Are the 40 park residents complaining about the downtown growth? I thought it was more the Community Place residents... You are absolutely correct that the council should embrace the changes that are and have been occurring, especially when these changes are seemingly POSITIVE for Morristown. It's not like the past 30 years of town development have left us in a bad position. How can anyone really argue that the growing nightlife has not helped the town? Morristown's reputation has been growing, and this town is actually becoming quite sexy. Rumors of Jets players in town (okay, yea I agree, when Giants players begin hanging out in Sona or Iron Bar, it will be a better indicator). We even turned down Snooki's MTV reality show! We still have standards, see?
Tyrone Woods October 26, 2012 at 05:07 PM
Steve, what the heck are you talking about? The bowling alley was definitely denied. Are you on drugs?
FunkyMotown October 26, 2012 at 05:15 PM
Oops, yea I missed that detail above, you are correct about the 40 Park residents complaining also...awkwaaaard. "You chose to live above the Motown bar scene, yet you complain about the Motown bar scene..." hmmm


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