There’s nothing new to see at 399 Grand St. yet, but the plans are drawn and the permits secured. Any minute now, the demolition of the old Noah’s Ark Deli and the construction of the new Comfort Diner will begin.
No one is more excited about it than owner Ira Freehof, who shared his plans for the space and the restaurant with The Lo-Down this week in a walk-through.
“I look at a restaurant as a living, breathing thing, where we’re not just feeding you–it’s a living, breathing community,” Freehof said. “That’s about to happen here, and I think that’s kind of cool.”
The build-out is expected to take six to eight weeks, Freehof says, and he’s got a firm goal to be open by Labor Day weekend, the last weekend in August, barring unforeseen delays. While the general location of the dining room, kitchen and bathrooms will remain the same, a total revamp of the interior is in the works. Large windows that swing open to the street will replace the fixed panes, and the area just inside the entrance will be opened up to ease the flow of incoming patrons. There will be a set of six booths in the center, one booth in front of each window, and banquettes lining both of the long walls in the front. The rear third of the restaurant will gain a curved bar in front of the kitchen with seven stools, while the rest of the bar area will hold one large booth and three high-top tables for two.
The decor and the menu will be similar to, but not exact duplicates of, the original Comfort Diner in Midtown, which Freehof opened 18 years ago. Two distinct differences are: the Grand Street plans include a large sidewalk seating area in fair weather; and Freehof has applied for a full liquor license that will enable the rear portion of the restaurant to morph into a more bar-like setting in the evenings.
The restaurant will seat a total of 64 diners, and offer both takeout and delivery service.