Food blogs and local papers have been chewing over a matter that gets us very, very nervous. They say there is a war on something that we hold close to our hearts, something American as apple pie (or huevos rancheros, or eggs Benedict, or biscuits and gravy). They say there is a war on brunch. First women, now brunch! Is nothing sacred? (No, nothing is sacred.)
This "war on brunch," which has gone on for some 21-days at this point, comes to light again via the Brooklyn Paper Wednesday. Councilman Steve Levin, a Greenpoint Democrat, is taking measures to end the war. But what, exactly, is the war on brunch? Restaurants are not supposed to serve food and drink on sidewalk cafés before noon on Sundays, per a 30-year-old city law. Meanwhile, state laws allow for brunch "as early as 8 a.m."
Aaron Short writes in the Brooklyn Paper that Levin's proposed, in-the-works bill "could diffuse a conflict that erupted last month when Community Board 1 leaders warned city officials that several Northside cafes were violating the seldom-enforced Sunday morning outdoor brunch ban."
One of those restaurants, Lokal, which sits north of McCarren Park near the Greenpoint/Williamsburg border, was subject to a raid by city inspectors and given a summons for setting up tables outside at 9:35 a.m. on a Sunday. Five Leaves, across the street, was struck by inspectors the very next weekend. In this war, the lines are drawn: Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, steadfast in his belief in the right to brunch al fresco in the a.m. and hungry morning people on one side; city inspectors, religiously minded folks trying to get to and from church without being waylaid by mimosa-drinking crowds, and, allegedly, community boards who are urging people to call 311 if they "see something" on the other. Then there's the side of denial (every war has one): According to the Brownstoner blog, quoting Tom Burrows, the chair of the Community Board 1 public safety committee, “there is no war on brunch in Williamsburg and Greenpoint—this is a way of selling papers.”