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Court Street Grocers Opening First Manhattan Location In Greenwich Village

By Danielle Tcholakian | September 15, 2015 7:00pm
 One of the sandwiches served at Court Street Grocers' Hero Shop in Red Hook.
One of the sandwiches served at Court Street Grocers' Hero Shop in Red Hook.
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Daniel Krieger Photography

GREENWICH VILLAGE — The owners of a popular Brooklyn eatery are partnering with the man behind longtime SoHo watering hole Fanelli's to open an outpost in the Village.

Matt Ross and Eric Finkelstein opened Court Street Grocers on its namesake street in 2010, a sandwich shop in Red Hook in 2013 and are now planning their first Manhattan-based Court Street Grocers at 540 LaGuardia Place, a building with special significance for their third partner, Fanelli's owner Sasha Noe.

"It's an amazing neighborhood," Ross said when asked why they decided on Greenwich Village for their expansion. "But also Sasha grew up in that building."

Noe, who still owns that building and lives next door, got to know Ross and Finkelstein as a regular customer at both of their Brooklyn spots for a few years, Ross told DNAinfo New York, and proposed opening a version of their restaurant in his childhood home.

"He he asked if we had any interest in it and we definitely did," Ross said. "That street is so great, and the store — we walked in it and it felt like our store in Brooklyn."

The trio envision the operation as being "identical" to their Carroll Gardens operation, their lawyer told Community Board 2's liquor license committee, seeking their support for a wine and beer license at a recent public meeting.

Noe told the board Court Street Grocers was one of his favorite eateries and he wanted his neighborhood of 40 years to have that experience.

The LaGuardia Street space will hold a small grocery store and a 24-seat restaurant split between a 10-seat food counter and tables to accommodate up to 12 people. Open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., it will have no outdoor seating and carry "some of our classic stuff, new stuff, some reinventions of stuff," Moss said.

If they get their wine and beer license from the State Liquor Authority, they plan to source their beer from Other Half Brewing Company, a brewery near their shop in Red Hook run by friends of theirs who helped them start their first store on Court Street. Other Half is letting their new Greenwich Village store be the exclusive seller citywide of the brewery's special canned beer.

Community Board 2's liquor license committee gave the Court Street Grocers application their conditional approval, despite objections from a CB 2 member who lives near the new store, Lois Rakoff.

Rakoff said she liked the clothing store, Purdy Girl, that used to be in that space, and that nothing on the proposed menu "warrants wine or beer."

"I'm dead set again this," Rakoff told the committee. "I know Purdy Girl and it would be very nice to have another retail store there."

She lamented that high rents make food businesses more appealing than retail, but Noe said that issue had no bearing on his previous tenant.

"I liked it too," he said. "She decided to close. I didn't raise the rent at all. That wasn't the issue."

Moss said the trio hopes to open the store as soon as mid-October.