Big plans for the small ground-level and subterranean spaces in the triangular building at the intersection of Ludlow, Canal and Division streets are up for review tonight.
If restaurateur Paolo Italia’s proposal goes according to plan, 1 Ludlow St. may soon be serving wood-fired oven pizza at a stand-up Roman-style joint on the ground floor, and in the basement, artisan cocktails mixed by veterans of East Village spirits haven Angel’s Share.
Italia, a principal in The Stand, a Gramercy Park comedy club and restaurant that opened a little over a year ago, will bring his vision for his new venues to Community Board 3’s liquor licensing subcommittee this evening. For the restaurant, he is partnering with owners of the small pizza chain Numero 28, which has a location at 176 Second Ave. For the cocktail lounge, he is working with three bartenders from Angel’s Share, long-time friends who have been looking to expand, he said.
“These guys have always wanted to branch out and do their own thing, put their individual names on something,” Italia told The Lo-Down this morning, referring to the Angel’s Share team. “Of course, everything is contingent upon getting the nod for our liquor license.”
Italia is seeking a full bar permit for the bi-level space, which is also known as 38 Canal St. and 144 Division St. His plan is to serve only beer and wine in the street-level cafe, which will be called Three Points. He is also seeking a sidewalk permit. The tiny space will have a custom-built wood-fired oven and serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. A first-generation Italian-American, Paolo envisions a place like those that dot the streets of Rome, with an eat-at bar inside, tables outside and excellent coffee. Pizza delivery is also in the works, he said.
Downstairs, there will be another bar and seating that brings the total occupancy to 74 patrons. The subterranean space will be called “Ludlow Inn” and feature high-end cocktails served in a cozy, quiet atmosphere not unlike that at Angel’s Share, a 20-year-old self-described “elegant drink parlor” hidden upstairs from a Japanese restaurant on Stuyvesant Street.
“We want to separate these two venues, so that the downstairs is a neighborhood destination spot. We won’t be advertising it; it’s not the kind of place people are going to stumble in drunk off the street,” he said.
At a meeting of the SPaCE Block Association last week, Italia discussed his operating hours and other details with community members, who argued for earlier closing times and expressed concerns about the sidewalk service. He is seeking to remain open until 4 a.m. daily, but indicated this morning he’s still in talks with the block association. Emma Culbert, one of the group’s leaders, said the two sides had not reached an agreement yet.
“I totally understand people’s reservations about adding liquor licenses in this neighborhood,” Italia said. “Obviously, no one wants a repeat of what’s happening above Delancey.”
The turn-of-the-century building, which was vacant for at least a decade, has undergone a gut renovation. In January, city officials signed off the latest plans from owner Ross Morgan, who bought the building in 2007 for $2.2 million. Morgan, who specializes in rehabilitating historic buildings, has transformed the upper floors into a single-family two-bedroom townhouse with a roof deck. Morgan currently lives there, but plans to rent it eventually, he said. Downstairs, raw construction is mostly complete in the two restaurant/bar spaces, with fixtures and furnishings left to be installed. An underground tunnel believed to have stored coal in the old days was unearthed during the project, and may be incorporated into the Ludlow Inn’s footprint.
“This is a home run for the block and for the neighborhood. It’s been a long time coming, but we’re there now,” said Morgan, noting he’d chosen Italia and his partners after fielding proposals from “a lot of horrible people.” “These guys are going to do great–they are the real thing.”
The rest of tonight’s subcommittee meeting agenda is heavily focused above Houston Street, but there are two other LES items of note: a bar permit for Cochinita Dos, the new outpost of a Brooklyn taqueria planned for 49 Canal St. and a sidewalk cafe application by the owners of Norman’s Cay on Orchard Street.
Also this week in news of East Village cocktail bars expanding to the LES, the team behind Death & Co. announced they will open a bar underneath Schapiro’s later this month.