UPPER WEST SIDE — The crates of plates hadn't been unpacked and chairs still stood in stacks, but the tourists and eager locals were already turning up at Good Enough to Eat Thursday.
The restaurant, an Upper West Side staple for 30 years, had been threatened with closure when its landlord decided not to renew its lease at Amsterdam and West 83rd Street.
But a knight in shining armor came this spring in the form of Jeremy Wladis of the Restaurant Group who was willing to transform his short-lived "popup" restaurant, AG Bistro at Columbus Avenue and West 85th Street, into Good Enough to Eat's new home.
Wladis has formed a partnership with owner Carrie Levin, who opened the restaurant at the age of 23 and has always been a fixture in the neighborhood, where she raised her three now adult sons.
Her new place was expected to open Thursday night.
Wladis would not say how his group and Levin will divide the profits and costs, but simply that Levin is in charge of operations.
The good homemade food is what's kept demand high, he said.
"There's typically a line 360 days a year," said Wladis of Good Enough to Eat's famous brunch.
"It's a cult following. It reminds me of Shake Shack," he said.
Based on the interest in the restaurant's move and reopening, Wladis believes that popularity will translate into the new spot and gain new fans. In the long-term, he's interested in franchising the concept in New York and in other cities, he said.
From the iconic white picket fence marking the restaurant's sidewalk cafe to the large collection of cow themed tsotskis, every object made the move, said Wladis.
"We're keeping it exactly the same," Wladis assured. "Why mess with success?"
Levin felt sad to be closing her doors on Amsterdam Avenue, but said that she always remained steadfast in her desire to stay in the neighborhood that's been so good to her.
"It feels a relief that I'm not fighting an uphill battle," she said Thursday.
But shifting to group management would be a big change, she admitted.
"It'll be interesting to do it together," she said.
Whatever her concerns, Levin said she was reassured by how much the Columbus Avenue spot already looked like her old restaurant.
One of Wladis' goals is to expand the hours both earlier and later. He believes that the computerization his group uses and the deals they're able to secure will help keep costs down.
The new space also fits 120 people, whereas Levin could fit only around 70, said Wladis.
"This is a landmark. People come from all over the world to go here," he said, adding that he thought even with more space there'd be a line.