City residents living along East 39th and East 38th Streets have been complaining their quality of life has been compromised by the new management at Bonfire Restaurant on Market Street citing loud music, parking problems, and litter left behind by patrons.
“The newly established Bonfire has created a prison mentality on East 38th Street,” said Iris McCoy of the East 38th Street Block Association. “We’re forced to stay home because of parking.” She said at times residents are unable to access their own streets as patrons and valets from the establishment flood the roads with vehicles.
“You can’t even turn into your block because cars are three deep across,” she said on Tuesday evening before the city council. When residents are able to access their blocks they are unable to find parking, she said.
Alex Mendez, councilman at-large, said residents have requested East 38th Street be turned into a one-way. He said the city’s traffic engineering is conducting a study to see this through.
“I do think turning the street into a one-way will solve some of the problems, but it will also help to create additional problems,” said Kenneth Morris, councilman at-large. He said turning the street into a one-way will cause access problems for residents.
Morris suggested implementing a permit based residential parking program that will prevent non-residents from taking up parking spaces. He said the residential parking would kick in during the weekend from Friday 6 p.m. to Monday 7 p.m.
“What this will do is at least alleviate the parking problems,” he said. Morris has been working on a city-wide residential parking program. He suggested the city do a pilot on East 38th and East 39th Streets.
Andre Sayegh, 6th Ward councilman, concurred citing a similar measure that was taken by Haledon, when that town had to deal with Brownstone patrons taking up street parking in the neighboring town.
Another area resident Sonya McKinney said the noise coming from the restaurant keeps her awake at night. “I can’t sleep, I have to take sleeping pills at night in order to get a good night sleep without being disturbed,” she said.
McKinney said the noise problem is only exacerbated by confused valets who have difficulty turning off alarms. She said vehicle alarms go off frequently during the night as the restaurant’s valet are handling patrons’ vehicles.
She also said patrons are leaving the establishment with bottles that are ending up on sidewalks. “I’ve never seen that block so dirty,” said McKinney of East 39th Street. Parked vehicles on the block are also being damaged, she said.
The establishment was to address some of these issues based on a mid-March meeting that took place between the new management of the restaurant and area residents. McCoy said the March 12th, 2015 meeting has not produced the intended results.
William McKoy, 3rd Ward councilman, said the problems stem from an ownership change at the Market Street restaurant. He said the model the new management is using night club, discotech, is very different from the previous management’s fining dining and catering.
Owner of the restaurant which is now called Bonfire Mofongo House and Lounge did not respond to a message seeking comments for this story.
McKoy said the booming lounge may be suffering from capacity problems with large number of patrons. He called for a second meeting to discuss residents’ complains on May 14th, 2015 at 7 p.m. at the lounge.
“I think we’re due another conversation,” said McKoy. “We’re not intending to close anybody or move against anybody. There has to be peace and quiet.”