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LIC Eatery Sage General Store Gets New Name and Live Music

 The lamb shank lasagna at Sage Roadhouse.
The lamb shank lasagna at Sage Roadhouse.
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Sage Roadhouse

LONG ISLAND CITY — A popular lunch and comfort food eatery in the neighborhood has a new name and concept.

Sage General Store, at 24-20 Jackson Ave., is now Sage Roadhouse — a bar and restaurant offering farm-to-table comfort food, cocktails and live music starting next week.

"I'm kind of looking at it as a new restaurant," said owner Leslie Nilsson, saying she wants to depart from the eatery's past life as a to-go joint. "A lot of people still think of us as that takeout shop."

Nilsson originally opened in the neighborhood as Sage American Kitchen, a tiny three-seat operation just a few blocks away from their current space that only served food to-go, she said.

She moved into her current storefront in 2008 and renamed the restaurant Sage General Store, where she served up buffet lunches to the neighborhood's office crowds, and sold artisanal products like honey as well as folk art and antiques.

The eatery gained fame in 2011 when it appeared in an episode of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, and it became popular for its bacon-heavy brunch, decadent mac-and-cheese and rotisserie chicken. They later added dinner service and applied for a liquor license to operate a bar.

Last year, Nillsson started operating a pop-up Nordic restaurant called Mrnilsson in the same space during the evenings, serving up four-course or seven-course tasting menus in what she describes as "a foray into fancier fare."

While Mrnilsson got good reviews — it earned a write-up in the New York Times — Nilsson said the neighborhood missed the home cooked, down-to-earth food from Sage General Store. 

"We found that our regulars were really wanting more of what we've always done, which is sort of hearty, homey comfort food," she said. "I think that this is a good way to make everybody happy."

Sage Roadhouse offers some of the same favorites from Sage General Store, including its roast chicken, mac-and-cheese, homemade soups and chopped kale salad.

New dishes include a steak chili served with jalapeño cornbread, lamb shank lasagna and buffalo cauliflower (a vegan take on buffalo wings).

The bar will serve up $3 cans of PBR, as well as specialty cocktails, including a "potent elixir" called the Aunt Roberta that's made with gin, vodka, absinthe, brandy and blackberry liquor.

Starting Monday, the restaurant will host a weekly open mic night featuring live music, poetry and other performances beginning at 7 p.m.

Nilsson said the live music fits in with the "roadhouse" vibe that the new name is striving for.

"To be the place where the neighborhood folks come out," she said.

Sage Roadhouse is open Monday to Friday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., for brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and for dinner on Saturdays from 4 to 10 p.m., according to its website.