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Bakery Called Nibbles to Open in Former Lower East Side Synagogue

By Serena Solomon | November 5, 2013 7:45am
 Renderings for the project to convert a former synagogue to a gallery, café and retail space show a modern interior that keeps some of the building's original character.
70 Hester St. Design
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LOWER EAST SIDE — A bakery and café called Nibbles will open soon in a historic Lower East Side synagogue that is being converted to a gallery and retail space.

Workers are nearly done renovating the former First Roumanian-American Congregation building at 70 Hester St., replacing the long-unused sanctuary with a sleek, modern interior with lime green accents.

The café on the second floor of the four-story, 5,000-square-foot building will have a green ceiling and long white counters and the menu will include baked goods, said Carlo Enzo Frugiuele, the project's architect from Urban Office Architecture.

"The green is the connection with the original building," Frugiuele said. "The [original] storefront framing and fire escape were green and it was meant to be a connection with buildings outside."

"We call it 'inner green,' a tribute to the exterior being 'flipped' to the interior," he added.

Construction is scheduled to be done in the next month-and-a-half, Frugiuele said, though it was not immediately clear when the café would open.

The building's owner, listed in city records as Christine Chiarella, will operate Nibbles, Frugiuele said. Chiarella was not immediately available for comment.

Built in 1860, the former synagogue was most recently home to artists Thomas Nozkowski and Joyce Robins, who rented the space starting in 1967 for about $1,100 a month.

The renovated building will also house retail on the lower level and a gallery in the former sanctuary on the third and fourth floors, all designed to appeal to the neighborhood's young professional residents.

Those spaces are still on the market with Town Real Estate, according to the agent Tom Brady. The asking rent for the sanctuary area is $14,500 a month, according to the listing.

"We have strong interesting, but nothing has been signed yet," Brady said.