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Hibachi Eatery May Replace Pool Hall

The Village of New Hyde Park will soon hear Manhattan businessman Sam Chan’s proposal to open a 84-seat hibachi-style restaurant at 1215 Jericho Tpke. in New Hyde Park, the former spot of the maligned Empire Billiards Hall. The hearing is set for Tuesday, Sept. 16 at 7:30 p.m.

“The board will be hearing the case for restaurant usage,” Mayor Robert Lofaro said. “This will also have to go before the zoning board. They will likely hear the case.”

The restaurant would be staffed by 15 employees. Lofaro said Chan and property owner Mark Sommer, a local dentist, are requesting 25 off-street parking spaces.

Sommer was unreachable for comment. Sommer’s work phone said the “office was closed for vacation.”

“The applicant is providing no off-street parking,” Lofaro stated. “They have to convince the zoning board and the residents why they should operate with providing no off-street parking.”

The billiard hall was met with extreme criticism and community outrage for some time before its closing on June 30, 2013. Village residents had routinely complained of noise and unruly patrons at the site.

Residents were vociferous at recent board meetings, particularly with fights, public intoxication and even a human appendage.

“I live around the block, three houses down and an EMT walks up to me and asks for ice to put an ear in,” resident Jennifer Schneider said at the time. “It’s disgusting. There’s stabbings, shootings, people getting hit by cars because of fights...it’s uncalled for.”

New Hyde Park imposed harsher parking restrictions in the aftermath of issues arising from Empire and the surrounding area, prohibiting parking from 12 p.m. to 5 a.m.

Empire had been previously summonsed by the village for violating its code for operating as a billiard hall without a permit. The village revoked its permit in 2012. New Hyde Park had to order the club to remove a DJ booth and dance floor.

The hall’s previous manager Harinder Singh pleaded guilty to $2,000 in violations in village court in May 2013, according to officials.

Nassau County police in 2013 reported to village officials that 14 official complaints had been filed against Empire in 2013. Fights, parking issues, noise and public urination near the club, but not necessarily stemming from the hall, were a few issues raised by concerned residents.