Well, she’s not crazy really,” Mr. Alperin countered. “She’s my grandma.”
- May 09, 2014
This weekend the New York Time’s featured our beloved Long Island Bar for their deco inspired restaurant piece. Below is the except about the bar and David’s family history with it for the full article click here.
For more than half a century, Emma Sullivan; her husband, Buddy; and her cousins Pepita and Maruja ran the Long Island Restaurant in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, as a lunch place, serving homemade soups and burgers amid Art Deco splendor.
There were antique wooden telephone booths in which my young son loved to play; red and cream vinyl booths with coat racks attached; and, best of all, a curved wooden bar with a semicircular mirror shaped like a rainbow, one strip layered on top of the next like the back of the stage at Radio City. There was a large neon sign atop the place, but it hadn’t been lit since the early 1970s.
The restaurant closed in 2008, and the neighborhood mourned. Now and then, you’d press your face against the glass and wonder what would become of a circa 1949 bar, installed by Emma’s Spanish immigrant father, Ramon Montero.
When Toby Cecchini moved to the neighborhood from Chelsea, “like everybody else, I looked in the window a thousand times,” he said. Mr. Cecchini, who created the modern-day cosmopolitan while bartending at the Odeon in the ‘80s, ran his own bar, Passerby, in Chelsea. After that closed in 2008, he spent four years searching with his friend Joel Tompkins for a new space.
Then Mr. Cecchini met David Alperin, who runs Goose Barnacle, a men’s wear shop across the street from Long Island Restaurant. They got to talking, and Mr. Alperin asked why he didn’t consider that space.
“You must have heard the stories,” Mr. Cecchini replied. “Some crazy Spanish lady owns it and won’t talk to anybody. People leave notes under the door all the time, and she won’t even speak to them.” Mr. Tompkins, in fact, had left such a note four years earlier.
“Well, she’s not crazy really,” Mr. Alperin countered. “She’s my grandma.”
“I was like, ‘I meant crazy like a fox, like smart crazy,’ ” Mr. Cecchini backpedaled.
Mr. Alperin got the keys and took Mr. Cecchini and Mr. Tompkins over to see the restaurant. Ms. Sullivan, who is not crazy, saw the lights go on from her apartment across the street and ran over to investigate. She and Mr. Cecchini hit it off. A lease was signed.
In the course of a year and a half, Mr. Cecchini and Mr. Tompkins restored nearly every detail: the booths, the bar, the Formica-top tables, the paneled windows, the terrazzo floors, the pink and green neon, the stainless-steel beer console. The phone booths now sit in Goose Barnacle across the street and are used to hang clothes. In their place, Mr. Cecchini built matching benches. At the Atlantic Avenue end of the bar are three pink vinyl stools, each with a metal name tag, for Emma, Pepita and Maruja.
Mr. Cecchini stripped the wooden bar top himself. It was black from years of grease and smoke. He left some cigarette burns under the polyurethane for old times’ sake.
The new place, now the Long Island Bar and no longer serving lunch, opened six months ago. “Elevated bar food,” not the soups and burgers of Mrs. Sullivan’s day, is the fare. Mr. Cecchini’s new specialty drink is the Boulevardier, a Campari-colored concoction served in a coupe glass that matches the Deco pink neon atop the building. It was invented — naturally — in 1920s Paris.