EAST VILLAGE — French fry haven Pommes Frites is aiming to reopen later this year — but it’s leaving the neighborhood it's called home for 18 years because it's too expensive, according to its owners.
The beloved fry spot — which was reduced to rubble after a March 26 gas explosion killed two men and destroyed the building that housed the restaurant — is heading to a larger location in Greenwich Village after its owners were unable to find affordable rent in the East Village.
“We looked at so many spaces that didn’t work for one reason or another,” co-owner Omer Shorshi said.
Shorshi and his partner, Suzanne Levinson, looked at more than 50 locations, mostly in the East Village, but found that spaces similar to their 500-square-foot former home were at least double the $5,000-a-month rent they paid at their 123 Second Ave. location, he said.
The owners ultimately signed a lease at 128 MacDougal St. near Washington Square Park. The new space will be much bigger at about 800 square feet, and will cost about $9,000 a month in rent, Shorshi said.
They hope to reopen Pommes Frites sometime in the fall, Shorshi said.
The small eatery has been known for its paper cones of fries and more than 20 dipping sauces. When the explosion destroyed the restaurant, devoted customers expressed concern and dismay on social media.
“I've been coming here since high school, and I've brought so many people here to taste the wonders of Pommes Frites,” Yelp user Connie V. wrote shortly after the incident. “There's really no second best to this place.”
The new space has room for about 25 seats, Shorshi said. The owners also plan to apply for a beer and wine license, but the new location is "not going to be a bar," he promised.
The owners also plan to launch a crowdfunding campaign later this month to help raise money for the move, Shorshi said. An earlier online fundraiser on their website raised about $2,500, he said.
Shorshi said the owners were grateful for the amount of support they received from fans all over the world after the explosion. It felt “weird” to leave the East Village, he said, but he's upbeat about the new location.
“Hopefully our customers from the East Village are willing to walk to come to us in Greenwich Village,” he said. “I hope it’s going to work.”