The Fight for 365 Grand Street


The food blogs are having a wonderful time poking fun at the squabbling over the fate of the old “Isabella’s Oven” location at 365 Grand Street. Neighborhood message boards lit up after last week’s controversial meeting of Community Board 3’s liquor licensing committee. Jesse Hartman’s proposal for an Italian restaurant in the shadow of the Seward Park Co-op with a full bar and an enclosed backyard was opposed by three residents toting petitions with over a hundred signatures. Over the weekend there were rumors that the Seward Park Housing Corp., the landlord, had decided to go with another applicant, an Asian fusion restaurant. But this morning Seward Park General Manager Frank Durant told us “there is no signed lease in place with anyone.”

Some residents expressed concerns about the full bar Hartman wants to operate and the closing time (4am). But most of the comments at the meeting and on the message boards express worries over late night noise wafting from the garden up to the apartments above. Durant said,“We will make sure that our residents and neighbors are protected from any disturbances. If that means having a sound proof enclosure or have lease provisions in place we will.”  He added, “the Board and Charles Greenthal Management will do whatever is necessary to make (sure) whomever leases that store (will) be able to succeed and be welcomed by the neighborhood.

At the community board meeting, Hartman agreed to withdraw his proposal in order to reach an agreement with opponents of “Grand Park.” He’s been having discussions since then with both supporters and opponents of the restaurant.  Today he met with an architect who has agreed to draw up sketches for a sound proofed backyard enclosure.

More Details: New Grand Street Restaurant

Yesterday we told you about the new restaurant planned for 365 Grand Street, the old "Isabella's" location. This morning Jesse Hartman confirmed he's going before Community Board 3's licensing committee on May 11 to ask for permission to serve alcohol. Hartman is a musician and filmmaker, who along with his brother, Phil, operated "Mo Pitkin's House of Satisfaction" on Avenue A until it closed a couple of years ago. Phil Hartman runs the "Two Boots" pizza restaurants.

The restaurant will feature an Italian small plates concept. Since the indoor space is very small, he'll make full use of an outdoor area in the back, adjacent to the Seward Park handball courts. Hartman says he plans to enclose the garden so it can be used all year and to cut down on noise.

Hartman and his wife have lived in the neighborhood for 7 years. Since "Mo Pitkin's" closed, he has been working on a film project, "House of Satisfaction."

He's excited about the concept for the restaurant, tentatively called "Grand Park." Unlike several blocks above Delancey (Rivington, Orchard, Ludlow), there are not a lot of dining choices in the immediate area.  Hartman says there are stil a lot of details to work out, including building department issues. But he's hopeful everything will fall into place.