Team With Ties to Major Food Group Fails to Sell CB3 on Eldridge Street Venue

105-107 Eldridge St.

105-107 Eldridge St.

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.

New Liquor Application Surfaces For Space Next to Fontana’s on Eldridge Street

105-107 Eldridge St.

105-107 Eldridge St.

We’ve been keeping a eye on 105-107 Eldridge St., which has been home to the music venue and bar, Fontana’s, for the past dozen years. As The Lo-Down reported last month, the locally-owned spot is closing down in a couple of months due to escalating rent. Meanwhile, a gut renovation of a neighboring space in the same building in moving forward. This week, a new liquor license application emerged for the large space, formerly an Asian restaurant.

Back in the middle of 2014, downtown DJ Jack Abramcyk made his pitch to Community Board 3 for “Cafe Bambi,” a bi-level restaurant/club in an area that’s been attracting more nightlife in recent years. It was listed by Grub Street as one of the top 20 nightlife openings in the fall of 2014.

Now an application has been filed with the community board in the name of William Tisch of “Eldridge Hospitality LLC.” There are 100 seats planned with bars on two levels. Weekend operating hours would be 10 a.m.-4 a.m. The application includes an “elevated gastro pub menu.” You can have a look for yourself here.  No information listed regarding the applicant’s background.

Incidentally, the Abramcyk family’s real estate company manages the building for the owner. Ray Abramcyk’s name is listed on Buildings Department records for the renovation project at 107 Eldridge St.

Fontana’s Bar is Closing After 12 Years on Eldridge Street

105-107 Eldridge St.

105-107 Eldridge St.

After more than a decade in business on the Lower East Side, the owners of Fontana’s, the Eldridge Street bar and performance venue, have decided to call it quits.

Here’s what they told us:

We would like to thank our loyal customers, the bands that have played and our family of employees for an amazing 12 year run. As proprietors it’s been wonderful to serve the community in which we’ve lived, worked and played for over 23 years. It has become increasingly hard to be an independent business in New York city without compromising your vision. Choices get made due to economic strain and we are no longer willing to bend to that pressure. We set out to operate a neighborhood rock bar and that has become economically unfeasible. It’s been a wild ride. Please stop by so we can say goodbye.

Fontana’s, located just above Grand Street, is run by Holly Ferrari, Mary Finn and Deannie Wheeler. The sprawling venue features three bars, including a basement performance space. Over the years, it’s hosted a huge number of musical performances, standup comedy and a popular trivia night. Fontana’s is a favorite spot for local groups to hold special events and after-parties. The bar up front has always served as a laid back, friendly bastion off the beaten track from the neighborhood’s overheated nightlife scene.

In 2008, the Zarin family (of Harry Zarin Fabrics) sold the four-story building housing Fontana’s, 105-107 Eldridge St., for more than $9 million. The bar owners have faced steep rent hikes over the years. If they had chosen to sign another lease, monthly payments would have topped $30,000, three times what they were paying in the early years.

Fontana’s hasn’t set an exact closing date, but it will be sometime in the spring.