More on No. 87, a New Restaurant on Walker Street

Northeast Tribeca is getting a welcome influx of restaurants: an outpost of Chicago’s Au Cheval (at Walker and Cortlandt Alley); the restaurants/bars at the under-conversion Walker Hotel Tribeca (at Walker and Broadway); and 87 Walker, between Cortlandt Alley and Lafayette.

In a delightful surprise, the main proprietor of the establishment at 87 Walker—which will be called No. 87—is Tribecan Brian Kennedy (whose wife, Jolene Howard, contributed a column to this site in its early years). In advance of this week’s discussion of the liquor-license application at the Community Board 1 Licensing Committee, Jolene sent an email explaining their plans:

Brian practices litigation out of 87 Walker, and he commutes by foot from Northwest Tribeca to the courthouses so he knows all of the nooks and crannies of our little hamlet. When f S10 Training did not renew its lease on the first floor [it moved to Lispenard], Brian approached the landlords with a proposal for a café. On his walks to work, he has watched Walker Street, and the general area below Canal east of Church, develop on a daily basis. As someone who works in this quirky neighborhood, he felt that Walker Street itself (and the people who work there) would benefit from a casual café.

The landlords liked his plan and as of this month, the lease for the first floor of 87 Walker (around 1,800 square feet) was signed. The plan is to open No. 87 with 70 seats, including a bar (hence the liquor license). The emphasis of the business will be casual, serving comfort food and catering to the residents of and visitors to the neighborhood—including folks serving jury duty who are looking for a quaint lunch spot outside of the hustle/bustle of the courts.

This café will not be Brian’s first foray into hospitality. In the ’90s, he and a business partner opened and operated a successful bar/cafe/gallery in Greenpoint, which closed in 2005 when their lease expired and the two partners independently decided to pursue other professional endeavors (law and real estate, respectively). While it was open, Splendid was a beloved locals’ destination and as it turned out, a source of many friends with whom we still keep in close contact. Prior to that, Brian worked as the general manager of Laura Belle, an upscale catering and private events facility in Times Square, which was a promotion from his position as mâitre d’, working for the same owner/operator at The River Café.

While No. 87 is in its early stages, an operator, chef and GC have been selected. The menu is developing, too. When we patronize our local favorites (like Greca and Les Enfants de Bohème), we make a point to chat with the owners to let them know that a new place is coming soon and also to take the opportunity to tour their kitchens and learn from them—after all, opening a restaurant is a tricky thing! It’s nice to hear words of encouragement (and useful tips) from other independent restaurant owners who appreciate what we’re getting ourselves into.

P.S. I had wondered about another nugget of info on the liquor-license application, that one of the proprietors had been involved with AER Lounge in the Meatpacking District. Jolene says that Carlos Narcisse, who had been involved with AER, will be an operator/owner/partner in No. 87. According to Jolene, he was brought onboard for his experience managing Shelley Fireman restaurants Redeye Grill and Cafe Fiorello.