Several aspiring restaurant owners with ties to the Major Food Group (Parm, Dirty French, Carbone, etc.) pitched their plan for an expansive project at 105 Eldridge St. last night. But the panel charged with evaluating liquor permits voted against their proposal.
We told you about this project earlier in the month. The location in question is a bi-level space in the same building housing Fontana’s, the local rock bar going out of business in a few weeks due to escalating rent. At one point, downtown DJ Jack Abramcyk was planning a nightlife operation in this building.
Information provided to CB3 in advance of yesterday’s State Liquor Authority Committee meeting was scarce. When the agenda item came up at around midnight, a single applicant walked up to answer questions from board members. William Tisch said he’s special projects manager at the Major Food Group. He handles the build-out of restaurants for the high-flying hospitality firm, but is not involved in operating any of its venues.
Following some prodding from board members, who raised concerns about his lack of experience, Tisch said he’s got four partners, referred to only as “Dave, Michael, Dylan and Ryan.” Dylan turned out to be Dylan Hales of The Randolph Group. The chef, sitting in the audience, was identified as Michael Hamilton (formerly of Kingswood in the West Village, we presume).
The idea is to build-out a restaurant on the main floor (midnight closing time) with a lower level lounge open until 4 a.m. on weekends. The cuisine has been described as “elevated pub food.” “It will offer sophistication at an affordable price,” Tisch explained. “We’re trying to create a new genre.” There will be a pool table and pinball machine downstairs. Three licensed security guards would be on duty after 8 p.m. While committee members expressed fears that the project is really a club masquerading as a restaurant, team members insisted it would be a low-key neighborhood spot. “I would rather die than become a club owner,” said Tisch.
Committee member Andrew Chase noted that Eldridge Street (between Grand and Broome streets) is quiet in the evenings. “How will you control your impact?,” he asked. The applicants said there would be no rope line. Waiting customers would be herded into the restaurant space.
They also speculated that Fontana’s (which currently has three liquor permits) would not be replaced by another bar. The would-be operators said the building owner is looking at putting retail in the Fontana’s space. The asking rent is “a little out of control,” they noted. Curiously, the neighboring space Tisch & Company plan to occupy was offered at a very reasonable rent. The two spaces are in the same building, controlled by the same owner.
In the end, the committee voted the proposal down 4-3. The full board will weigh in later this month. Meanwhile, the applicants must decide whether to take their campaign for a liquor permit straight to the State Liquor Authority.