Blue Donkey, Upper West Side Bar, Closes After Irate Neighbor Takes to 311
A war has been waged in the stroller-filled streets of the Upper West Side. The players: the Blue Donkey Bar and resident Tim Tomlinson. For now it looks like Tomlinson has won. A sign posted on the window of the recently shuttered bar on Amsterdam Avenue pinpointed the West 84th Street resident Tomlinson for its demise.
The bar was shut down by the police Wednesday, and on Friday owners struck a deal with the police that if they ceased business on their own accord, the charges against them would be dropped, owner Jim Goldsmith told us.
"I'm in shock," Goldsmith said. "I've had my business taken away from me by the malicious, capricious actions of a neighbor."
The sign now posted on the bar's front window reads:
It didn't matter if it was children on the patio singing happy birthday, back when we were Homer's, or adults enjoying a beer, he complained. He complained to 311, the 20th precinct, and anyone else who would listen and accused us of drug trafficking among other things.
Mr. Tomlinson complained so much about us that the police of the City of New York slapped us with a Nuisance Abatement case -- it means we are a public nuisance.
Eight and a half years ago in a spot next to what would become the Blue Donkey, Goldsmith and his wife Kim Kaufman opened Homer's World Famous Malt Shop, which has since closed. Then, five years ago, they opened the bar.
Goldsmith said that Tomlinson, who teaches at NYU, has been persistently fighting his establishment and others before it. The neighbor's relentless complaining to 311 eventually got the attention of police and the local community board, even though Goldsmith said his bar was doing nothing different than any other of the other bars on the surrounding blocks. And there are many -- it's actually quite a fratty strip for being located one of New York's central mommy-zones!
In December of 2007 Tomlinson sent a letter to Council Member Gale Brewer, explaining that Goldsmith had known about the noise issues since 2004.
"Now over three years and literally over a hundred disturbances later, do his assurances to find solutions have even a shred of credibility?" Tomlinson wrote of Goldsmith.
And the logs Tomlinson kept are detailed (see below). Correspondence Brewer's office sent us show meticulous records of the hours at which he heard "loud shouts, screams, hurrahs, etc."
Brewer told us that her office had about 50 meetings to mediate the disputes over the bar. She added that Tomlinson was not the sole complainer.
"We really tried," she said.
Ultimately though, Tomlinson's barraging did have an effect, and police paid attention. So there you have it. Want to get something shut down? Call 311. And call them again, and again and again and again and again.
We've reached out to Tomlinson and the police for further comment.
Here are some of Tomlinson's gripes: