The Lot Radio (17 Nassau Ave.) opened their underground internet radio station inside of a repurposed shipping container in 2016 on a triangular, decrepit lot between Banker and N. 15 streets where a gas station once stood.
As an independently owned and operated small business that supports up-and-coming artists, owner Francios Vexelaire needed to raise funds to cover costs by selling drinks. The Lot Radio obtained a license from the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets and for the past two years has legally sold coffee, beer, wine and snacks to attendees.
Last week the Dept. of Health shut down the cafe portion of the business citing code violations, and since then the radio station has been without a revenue stream.
The city Dept. of Health is currently working with the Lot Radio to get the cafe portion of the business up to code. “The Dept. of Health decided that looking at our operation we should be under their jurisdiction, not Agriculture and Markets, and that’s why they came and shut us down to see how we need to adapt our operation to be compliant,” Vexelaire said. “We do agree it would be more logical to be under their jurisdiction,” he added.
The business was operating in what Vexelaire calls a regulatory “black hole” before the DOH shut it down last week. Despite the situation, Vexelaire maintains hope that a solution, primarily related to where the business sources its water, will be achieved.
The Lot Radio’s neighbors at the San Damiano Mission Church share access to their bathrooms and even piped water to the shipping container for the cafe to operate in years past.
“It’s basically having access to a neighbors’ bathroom. For us, it’s the church across the street. I think that’s gonna be approved,” Vexelaire said. “The water from the church, I don’t think it’s going to be possible anymore. The way around is that we will have a delivery of Poland Springs water jugs,” he said.
While Vexelaire says that the city is very responsive and is in regular contact with him, he’s withholding any excitement at the prospects of reopening. “I don’t want to be too optimistic, but my dream would be, that we would reopen by the three year anniversary for the party that we are organizing on February 9th at Brooklyn Bazaar,” he said.
The Lot Radio’s party at the Brooklyn Bazaar is on Sat. Feb. 9, starting at 7 p.m.; tickets are on sale.