New Kids on the Block: 87 on Walker

There’s nothing much more satisfying than welcoming a new restaurant to the neighborhood that’s also run by two native Tribecans.

Put 87 on Walker on your list of regular local joints starting now. It’s the product of Brian Kennedy, a lawyer who was raised in the food business – every summer through high school and college he tended bar at his uncle’s place, The River Café (you may have heard of it) — and his wife, Jolene Howard, a former cookbook marketer with a knack for food styling.

Kennedy’s law office is upstairs at 87, and after watching the ground floor space fall short of its potential as a beauty salon and crossfit gym, he asked the landlords for first refusal. This is not his first venture: he had a bar in Greenpoint called Splendid for six years, and sometime in the middle of his law career – between the DA’s office and his private practice – he was general manager of Laura Belle in Midtown.

The couple has beaten down a triangular path from their place on Desbrosses to PS 150 to 87 Walker and back again – though their daughter is headed to middle school in the fall and will interrupt the pattern. (Astrid Kennedy is designing the kids menu, along with Julius Tennenbaum, so if your offspring like steak tartare and oysters, they’re a match for this little foodie. But really, she says the menu will more likely include sliders, burritos and pasta, with Brooklyn Ice Cream for dessert.)

There are more neighborhood touches: Christy Frank helped with the wine menu (all small producers, and the Syrah was out of this world) and Shade Store founder Ian Gibbs did the slick but somehow also warm décor. The booths in the back are the place to be, though I always prefer a prime bar stool and there’s a great selection of those.

The menu is in previews for now, but everything we had off the small plates list – which was, well, all of them — was devoured. There are pink eggs. The music is too hip for me, which is a good sign for everyone else involved.

Head on over.

87 on Walker
Between Cortlandt Alley and Lafayette
For now: 3:30p to midnight



  1. How is the noise level in the restaurant?

  2. Love this story, and really wish them the best. Cocktails look great.

    Menu posted on here, and on their site, both seem a little overthought out. Most people now-a-days dont want intricate for intricate’s sake.

    I don’t think any kid’s menu needs to be “designed” or curated. That is kind of eye-rolly and marketing this will bring more bad than good.

    You don’t get much better than River Cafe, so I look forward to trying it in the next month or so.

    • To clarify: There’s no marketing of a kids menu going on, or any curating for that matter. I met their daughter at the restaurant and asked her what food she liked. Her parents said she would get to choose the kids menu, and she made the burrito, sliders, ice cream suggestions on the spot.

  3. Thank you for the visit and warm welcome Pam! The menu is in “preview” now and we are learning from it every day. Expect changes after Labor Day and please come back to see what’s new!

  4. Hi there — am I reading the wine list correctly? Is a 400%+ markup de rigeur these days?

  5. Great spot but I wouldn’t feel safe walking down that street at night by myself. Went in the daylight and saw a homeless man peeing and another who screamed at a woman walking by – and that was in daylight.

    • Yes, there is loitering in that area – both during the day and night.

      My wife asked a neighborhood policeman about the safety of the area. Because of the areas proximity to a number of Federal and police buildings in the area, the policeman told her that the area is quite safe. Of course, this is his personal view and not based on scientific evidence. My family lives in the area and we feel safe. It is true that at night, foot traffic is not high and the lighting in some of the streets is low. I actually like the fact the feel and certainly Hollywood does too – making Cortlandt Alley one of the most filmed streets in NYC.

  6. Geez people – give them a chance!

  7. I love the ’87” logo…fantastic design!

    And the room with the booths looks very inviting.

  8. September 6, get ready! Not sure who will join yet, but I’m all in for drinkies and chow. Ex/publishing cronies? Long-time friends…?

    • Come on in HHH! We’ve been so lucky to talk to many of our neighbors/guests who have so kindly stopped in for drinks, bites, or simply to say hello, and we have learned a lot in our first month! We’re catching our breath over the Labor Day holiday and will roll out lunch (and other big things) in the coming weeks. Appreciate the support!

  9. Not sure about this place. They need to get the lighting just right. A properly functioning dimmer switch is key. I need a bar stool with a back, no exceptions. And they need to add mini-onion rings with dipping sauce to their small plate menu – aka Smithereens. But who am I to judge or suggest? I am off to pee behind the bushes in Finn Square!

  10. I have meet the owner and their daoughter multiple times before, and I just want to put It out there that they are nice hard working people.