Since securing a liquor license for their first Manhattan outpost three weeks ago, the owners of Brooklyn’s chicken-and-waffles joint Sweet Chick have turned up the gas on their renovations of 178 Ludlow St., the former home of iconic LES bar Max Fish.
We took a tour late Friday afternoon, as workers delivered a truckload of commercial kitchen appliances that will furnish the 60-seat restaurant and bar’s new kitchen. The opening date is set for May 7, and co-owner John Seymour says they’ll make their deadline.
“Everything is a little raw right now, but we should have the bar finished by next week,” he said. “Our equipment’s being delivered, the plumbing and electrical is all done.”
The new layout includes a bar down the left-hand wall, plenty of exposed brick and a giant blackboard on the rear wall for displaying specials.
As far as decor goes, the Ludlow Street spot will look similar to the original, incorporating reused and repurposed materials, some of which are left over from the space’s former tenant of a quarter-century. Though the place was cleared out after a giant goodbye party last summer, some doors, doorknobs and trim pieces such as molding will look familiar.
“To me, it gives a sense of history to reuse as much as possible,” Seymour said. “Max Fish was such an institution.”
After leasing the space, Seymour said, he and his partner also tossed around the idea of doing some sort of a tribute to Max Fish in their new restaurant. That may be unnecessary, though, since last week Max Fish owner Ulli Rimkus got the green light to reopen her bar in new, larger digs just around the corner at 120 Orchard St.
Seymour and partner Sam Saleh have already hired some staff members for the LES location, who are now training at the original Sweet Chick in Williamsburg. A few veteran employees will also transfer across the river, Seymour said.
The menu, overseen by executive chef Randy Reppel, will be very similar to the original, with a few dishes and cocktails tailored specifically to the LES location, Seymour said. The spring menu includes chicken fried short ribs, a Greek yogurt cheesecake with Meyer lemon marmalade and a bourbon iced tea with peach and mint.
If all goes according to plan, brunch will launch on Saturday, May 9, two days after the dinner opening, with weekday brunch beginning Monday, May 12.