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Diner Owners Blocked in Bid to Open New Organic Eatery in TriBeCa

By Irene Plagianos | September 13, 2013 11:06am
 The owners of beloved Greenwich Street diner Gee Whiz lost their bid for Community Board 1's support for a liquor license for a new restaurant, Tribeca Kitchen.
The owners of beloved Greenwich Street diner Gee Whiz lost their bid for Community Board 1's support for a liquor license for a new restaurant, Tribeca Kitchen.
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TRIBECA — The owners of popular TriBeCa diner Gee Whiz were shot down this week in their bid to open a new organic restaurant called Tribeca Kitchen, after many nearby residents spoke out against the plans.

Residents of 200 Church St., where Tribeca Kitchen hopes to open a 40-table eatery, said they like the restaurant, but that their building does not have enough ventilation and soundproofing to appropriately house it. All 58 residents of the condo building, also known as 52 Thomas St., signed a petition against the proposal.

“We have no problem with the owners, we think they are great, longstanding members of the community,” said a resident of 200 Church St. who declined to give his name. “But this is not the place for them — it’s not the right spot.”

After hearing from concerned residents, Community Board 1’s Tribeca Committee voted Wednesday to reject Tribeca Kitchen's liquor license application. The committee's vote is advisory, and the final decision lies with the State Liquor Authority.

Gee Whiz's owners tried to convince the board members and residents that they were a family establishment that would do whatever they could to make Tribeca Kitchen as beloved as Gee Whiz. The restaurant would serve similar diner fare, but with an organic bent, and would close by midnight, co-owner Peter Panayiotou said.

‘We want people to be excited about this place opening,” Panayiotou said. “Gee Whiz has been here for 24 years. We love this neighborhood — even though the rent has skyrocketed we want to open another place here. We’re a part of this community.”

After the committee's vote, Panayiotou said he hoped to work with the residents and ultimately win their support. The Gee Whiz owners have already signed a lease for the 200 Church St. space.

The owner of the commercial ground-floor space in 200 Church St. declined to comment.

Other bars and restaurants coming soon to Lower Manhattan include:

► A French restaurant with outdoor rooftop space is slated to open next year at 35 Lispenard St.

The as-yet-unnamed spot, which won advisory approval from CB1's Tribeca Committee for its liquor license this week, was formerly home to a Thai restaurant called 35 Thai.

Restaurateur George Forgeios, who also owns TriBeCa's Cercle Rouge, plans to stay open until midnight on weekdays and 1 a.m. on weekends but agreed to close the rooftop at 9 p.m. daily. 

► A new caviar bar is coming to 75 Murray St., the former location of cocktail and jazz bar Silver Lining. The new spot, called Caviarteria, won support from CB1's Tribeca Committee this week for a 2 a.m. liquor license on the weekends and 1 a.m. license on weekdays. The owners have a catering and mail-order company of the same name.

Menu items will include a design-your-own platter of 1-ounce samples of caviar from around the world, as well as caviar-filled crepes and a variety of smoked and fresh fish, served with caviar. Prices were not yet available for the preliminary menu.

► Popular Little Italy restaurant Parm is coming to Battery Park City’s revamped Brookfield Place. The Italian eatery will take up a 4,100-square-foot space at 250 Vesey St., according to a press release. The restaurant is part of a $250 million overhaul of Brookfield Place, formerly known as the World Financial Center. A selection of high-ends shops and restaurants are slated to open in 2014.