A full-service kosher cafe backed by local businessman Nathan Sklar has won its bid to take over 357-359 Grand St., the former home of kosher pizzeria Shalom Chai.
Sklar’s winning proposal, which he called “a last hurrah” for kosher dining to the LES, was one of four competing applications presented to the board of Seward Park Co-op in August and voted on this week. The co-op owns the one-story commercial strip running from Essex Street to Clinton Street, from which it has evicted two kosher eateries in the last year: Shalom Chai in June and Noah’s Ark Deli last fall.
The other three options the board considered included a Spanish restaurant by Alex Raij and Eder Montero, a noted husband-and-wife chef team who own and operate three other successful restaurants and also live on Grand Street. Ned Baldwin, of East Village restaurant Prune, proposed a third restaurant. The fourth applicant was The Pickle Guys, whose owners were seeking to relocate their well-known Essex Street store around the corner into bigger space.
Board member Kate Nammacher declined comment on the board’s decision.
“Due to the sensitive and proprietary nature of commercial leasing and to protect all parties involved, we intend to wait until a contract is signed before we make any announcements,” she wrote in an email.
Sklar, a lifelong Seward Park Co-op resident and executive director of Comprehensive Companies, will be making his first foray into the restaurant business, in partnership with a chef who lives nearby, in the East River Co-op.
“Our concept is a cafe where everyone can eat,” Sklar told The Lo-Down earlier this month.
Sklar proposed a menu centered on fish and vegetables, including vegan and gluten-free options, salads, pizza and sushi. The restaurant, which is very tentatively titled Grand and Essex Cafe, will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. He plans to have outdoor seating on the sidewalk in front, as well as in a small garden area in the rear. Catering, takeout and delivery options are all in the plan, along with a full bar license. The restaurant would close an hour or two before sunset on Fridays and reopen shortly after sunset on Saturdays in observation of the Sabbath, he said.
Some members of the Lower East Side’s Jewish community actively campaigned for the kosher proposal via letters to board members and a petition.