Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Local culinary vets to open restaurant in former Franklin Roadhouse space


At the Franklin Avenue Merchants meeting last night, ILFA had the pleasure of meeting Jacques Belanger and Lev Gewirtzman, the business partners who've taken over the old Franklin Roadhouse space at 688 Franklin (pictured above). The Crown Heights residents have ample experience in the restaurant world between them, and after meeting with CB8 tonight, they're aiming to be open in 5-6 months, offering American casual fare that focuses on seasonal ingredients. No word yet on what the space will look like (as one local designer put it about the Roadhouse, "They really needed an interior decorator") or what it will be called, but with Gueros thriving and the always-popular Bombay Masala just a few doors down, Franklin and Prospect is rapidly becoming a hot culinary corner, and methinks this new spot will be eagerly anticipated (A Slice of Brooklyn does appear to be on the way out, for which ILFA sheds a sentimental tear, but the sale of their lease, signed a few years ago for what's now a prime corner location, should hopefully help the owners get a fresh start somewhere else). Read on for their complete press release:

Jacques Belanger and Lev Gewirtzman have just signed the lease at 688 Franklin Avenue (formerly Franklin Roadhouse). The still unnamed restaurant will feature a 15 seat bar, a 50 seat main dining room and an additional 20 seat backyard deck. The menu will be American casual with a focus on seasonal ingredients, local meat and fish, in house charcuterie and raw bar. They plan to open for dinner 7 days a week and brunch on weekends.

Jacques and Lev are both veterans of the New York dining scene. A native New Yorker, Lev is presently serving as the Chef de Cuisine at Ouest, Tom Valenti’s Upper West Side bedrock of fine dining. He has worked under Tom Valenti as the Executive Chef at The West Branch and Executive Sous Chef at ‘Cesca. His food has been featured in Art Culinaire, The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living and New York Magazine where The West Branch was awarded “Best Fish and Chips” and a “Top 10 Sandwich” for their Cuban.

Jacques is presently serving as the Executive Chef at MP Taverna, working with owner Michael Psalakis. He previously won rave reviews in the New York Times and from food reviewer Gael Greene for his work at Bar Luna. He collaborated with Lev as the Chef de Cuisine of The West Branch and as Sous Chef at Ouest.

The design is to be done by Nico Arze who did work on Tertulia, The Box London and Masak. Construction is in the hands of Matt Maddy (No.7 and Weather Up).

Jacques and Lev are both Crown Heights residents and are hoping to be open in 5-6 months.

11 comments:

  1. Hello,
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  2. Aw man I LOVE slice of Brooklyn!! It's my favorite slice in NY! *wipes tears*

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  3. In this economic environment, I'd be surprised if anything remained vacant for very long.

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  4. Very exciting stuff!

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  5. The interior of Franklin Roadhouse looked like so many bars across America (outside of the Northeast) - which I'm guessing from the name is what they were going for. It wasn't very 'New York' though, and certainly not very upscale NY. A bar like the Roadhouse may have pleased people in Williamsburg during the whole ironic, PBR drinking years, but no one is wearing trucker hats in NYC anymore. Crown Inn, which is going strong, reflects a very NY and upscale aesthetic.

    Interior decorators cater to an upscale, urban/suburban audience, so, yeah, they're always going to prefer a different look than down home Americana. And the success of their industry depends on establishing an aesthetics of "taste". I don't think the opinion of an interior decorator about the Roadhouse is worth s***.

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  6. I think Franklin Roadhouse's interior and concept might have worked in 2008, when the neighborhood has a large number of broke artist, theater, types.

    Those folks either already have been priced out, or are rapidly being priced out by those who want (and are willing/able to pay for) table service in a classy place.

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  7. You can debate the decor of roadhouse all you day. Bottom line is dude had no idea how to run a biz. Menus were non exixstant, pizza took forever, they were not open for lunch, no web site, google or yelp mgmt the list goes on and on. Its a shame because the pizza was decent. There are plenty of places around here with worse decor, that have been open for years.

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  8. This will be awesome! Lev is no joke. Been eating his cooking over 20 years!

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  9. Ouest! Basically the best restaurant on the upper west side of manhattan. Psyched!

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  10. I'm really looking forward to these guys coming to the neighb. I would love a got too place for brunch on the weekends.

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