Eye On Real Estate
By Lore Croghan
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Brace yourself, Billyburg. There will be an Urban Outfitters that serves booze. Soon.
Community Board 1's liquor license committee said No Way, Jose last fall when asked to support the youth-oriented clothing chain's liquor license application for its 98 N. 6th St. store site. Websites wrote hilarious critiques of the concept – like Gothamist, which called the store “Urban Drunkfitters.”
So guess what? The State Liquor Authority conditionally approved the license in December, agency spokesman William Crowley told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.
It will be used by a Brooklyn branch of a Los Angeles restaurant, The Gorbals, which belongs to “Top Chef” Season 2 winner Ilan Hall and co-owner Natan Zion.
“Yes, it's weird,” Zion said about putting a restaurant inside an Urban Outfitters. “It's also a challenge for us. It's a good risk for us.”
He expects the eatery to open for lunch the first week of April and dinner service to start in late April.
“Will there be hostility? Yes,” Zion said. “We have to make it worth it with terrific food and terrific atmosphere so people don't feel weird eating there.”
Among other things, there will be an open kitchen with interesting stuff for meat lovers to look at: “We bought things to cook whole animals – spits,” he said.
Don't expect the Williamsburg restaurant's menu to match that of the mother ship in L.A. There won't be bacon-wrapped matzoh balls like in Los Angeles, for instance.
Combining matzoh and pork – sooo un-kosher – began as “a tongue-in-cheek thing I did for a friend's birthday party in New York,” Hall told the Jewish Journal in 2009.
Zion expects the Williamsburg restaurant will draw diners who don't shop at Urban Outfitters – foodies age 30 and over. It will have a dedicated elevator, he said.
In Los Angeles, at least, diners aren't deterred by The Gorbals being in an out-of-the-way spot, Zion said. It's in the lobby of a low-income apartment building and has no street frontage.
The Williamsburg eatery will occupy the third floor, third-floor mezzanine and rooftop of the low-rise building Urban Outfitters is renting. The third floor and mezzanine can hold 116 people, and the rooftop 150, city Buildings Department filings indicate. The agency issued a permit in January for construction of a “raised noncombustible deck, guardrail and sound barrier wall on roof.”
Hall just filmed Season 2 of cooking competition show “Knife Fight,” which he hosts. Brooklynites may hold the chef's reality TV experience against him at first, suggested Zion, who has been friends with Hall since they grew up in Great Neck, Long Island.
“We're expecting a lot of people to be boisterous against us – they think we're just TV people,” Zion said. “People will come wanting to hate [the restaurant], and they'll be surprised.”