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Coffeed Takes Over Fort Tryon Park's New Leaf Restaurant

By Lindsay Armstrong | January 2, 2015 3:31pm | Updated on January 5, 2015 9:01am
 The New York coffee shop chain focuses on local ingredients and charitable giving.
The New York coffee shop chain focuses on local ingredients and charitable giving.
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DNAinfo/Lindsay Armstrong

HUDSON HEIGHTS — A coffee shop that focuses on local ingredients and charitable giving will take over the New Leaf, the popular Fort Tryon Park restaurant and wedding venue that abruptly announced it would close last month.

Coffeed, which has four New York locations, including another Parks Department concession, will replace the cafe’s longtime operator, the New York Restoration Project, when the venue reopens in the spring, easing concerns among couples who had weddings slated there.

“It’s a beautiful building in a beautiful park and we know that Coffeed will be a great partner,” said Sam Biederman, a spokesman for the Parks Department, which owns New Leaf’s building.

Frank Raffaele, Coffeed’s founder and CEO, said that New Leaf regulars would notice only subtle changes when the restaurant reopens.

“It was run very professionally — great food, great service, great events — and we’re just going to build on that,” Raffaele said. 

The venue will remain a full-service restaurant and event space. Raffaele plans to keep the restaurant’s chef and re-hire as much of the current staff as possible, he said. Raffaele will also keep the New Leaf's name.

There will be some changes, though. Raffaele may expand the hours to include a weekday breakfast service. The menu will also shift to highlight more local ingredients, including produce from Brooklyn Grange.

Finally, Raffaele hopes to lower prices slightly to make the New Leaf accessible to a broader range of people.

Parks Department officials announced last week that the New Leaf would close on Dec. 29 for several months while the building’s roof was repaired. They also announced that the New York Restoration Project would step down after almost 15 years of running the New Leaf, leading to questions about the five wedding receptions scheduled to take place at the venue in the spring.

Raffaele said that Coffeed employees have been working with couples that have events scheduled at the New Leaf to ensure a smooth transition.

“Our goal is that every event that is scheduled will take place as scheduled and planned,” he said. “The only change people will notice is that the restaurant will be renovated a little bit — new furniture, new finishings, new lighting, but nothing overdone.”

Coffeed, which started in Long Island City, gives 3 to 10 percent of its earnings to charity. The charitable donations from New Leaf will go toward the New York Restoration Project and the Fort Tryon Park Trust, both of which help to maintain the park where New Leaf is located.

In a community Facebook group, some residents expressed concerns that a new operator would turn the New Leaf into a venue like La Marina, another Uptown Parks Department concession that is known for loud, late-night parties.

However, Coffeed's other locations follow the cafe model, serving pastries and paninis with an emphasis on local ingredients. The company also operates LIC Landing, an outdoor cafe and Parks Department concession in Hunter's Point South Park.

Raffaele's goal is for the New Leaf to continue to be a point of pride for the neighborhood.  

“The biggest way we’ll succeed is if the community continues to feel like New Leaf is their treasure,” he said.