Vol. 17, No. 17 Aug 26 - Sept. 8, 2004


Concerns Over Club At 'Jimmy's' Site


The nature of a nightclub set to open next month on West Fordham Road and Cedar Avenue has stirred controversy among community leaders, some of whom charge that it will be a topless bar and attract undesirable attention to University Heights. 

The club, known as Xbar, and a restaurant called the Seafood Factory, will open in the building that once housed Jimmy's Bronx Café. Past owner Jimmy Rodriguez, whose three upscale city restaurants often drew celebrity crowds, abruptly closed Jimmy's Bronx Café at the end of last year. According to Rodriguez, the building's new owner, Carlos Gómez, is a director for the phone card company Union Telecard Alliance and already owns two restaurants in Manhattan. He will run the two establishments along with musical promoter Félix Cabrera and restaurateur Pablo Jimenez.

District Manager Rita Kessler of Community Board 7 said the Xbar won't be anything more than an upscale ladies' and gentlemen's club. "The fact that it's called 'Xbar' does not mean 'X-rated'," she says. "No way in the world would the board, the police or anybody agree to that." But the club's Web site, , describes the business as including "male and female go-go dancers" and "hot and sexy showgirls."

Former state senator Israel Ruiz, Jr., a Fordham Hill Co-op resident, alleged that 
Rodriguez was connected to the new operation. Rodriguez said that Gomez, Cabrera and Jimenez were friends of his, but that there was no business relationship among them.

Ruiz claims that, while in operation, Jimmy's Bronx Café was the site of several assaults, drug deals and homicides, and that the surrounding community was endangered by the problems there. He said he worries that the Xbar may continue to adversely affect the neighborhood. "I'm asking the community to understand what's going on there," said Ruiz, who is running again this year for State Senate. 

As part of his campaign against the opening, Ruiz has written a letter to the New York State Liquor Authority asking for an investigation into the owners' backgrounds before a liquor license is granted. 

Rodriguez countered Ruiz' allegations, stating that any shootings or drug deals that occurred in the area were a product of the area, not the restaurant. "I don't know of an establishment in New York City that caters to criminal activity," he said. "Israel Ruiz is just trying to bring attention to his campaign [for state senate]." 

As for the Xbar, Rodriguez insisted that there will be no nudity of any kind there.

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