Gee Whiz is rebuilding its dining sheds

The reconstruction of the curbside dining sheds at Gee Whiz started with an upstairs neighbor — he is going by Ron the Handy Guy — who came to owner Chris Panayiotou and suggested the structures could use a rehab. Turns out Ron is a carpenter for Local 52, the union that builds movie sets, and he had some time on his hands — production always slows down this time of year.

“Ron said the sheds weren’t looking great, but that he could help make them fun — like Old New York but diner-style,” Chris said. So the two started to think about ideas, then took a walk around the neighborhood, looking for ways they could also tweak the concept to make it more “Tribeca.” They also knew they had to adapt to the new rules for outdoor dining, which are a bit of a moving target right now. Sheds can now be fully enclosed, but still have to be ADA accessible.

The Greenwich Street side is green to match the Gee Whiz awnings, and the interior will mimic the diner’s interior. There will be diamond plating, like Tribeca loading docks, better lighting, and in terms of style, “neo classical a la Central Park,” said Ron. (He’s known Chris and his late father, Peter, for forever.)

The Warren Street side (which is definitely ready for a rehab) will be decorated like a kids playroom — the details of which they have been brainstorming with the folks at Boomerang, Two Kids and a Dog and Rosie’s Haircutting. The idea is that mom and dad can sit on Greenwich, with a kids table around the corner. “The kids room is going to be a blast,” Ron said. “That’s how I go to bed at night — thinking about what we will do in there.”

In the meantime, Chris said they cleaned up underneath both sheds by lifting the structures, sweeping and vacuuming. (Neighbors have had concerns about critters under the Warren Street shed, but the real problem seems to be the tree pit right next to it, and the city told Chris he couldn’t remediate the situation himself — that it was their property.) For the new structures, Ron is building trap doors in the platform for cleaning, and he’s designed wire mesh grates for the holes that are required to allow rain to flow through at the curb.

Ron gets the design brief: he’s worked on “West Side Story,” “Gilded Age,” and just finished a “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” series. “We are just trying to dress it up a bit,” said Chris.

They hope to have the Greenwich Street side done in two weeks, and Warren by Christmas.



  1. what a terrific collaboration!

  2. What a horrible insensitive comment. You don’t like it, don’t go. But lots of people enjoy dining there. I am sure you have heard the ol’ saying about not saying anything if you can’t say something nice…? Nah I guess you missed that lesson.

  3. I don’t understand, outdoor dining sheds by now is a confirmed fallacy. Doesn’t matter the design, do they actually have a permit? Or who issued such permits? Or just taking advantage of a loophole?

  4. I love Gee Whiz and I love eating outside there.

  5. I always get a good meal at Gee Whiz (usually two meals because the portions are so generous). The staff are friendly and remember regulars too. Different strokes for different folks.

  6. Great!! Keeping the business alive after such bumps in the road. Keep going Chris and keep your dads legacy alive. Love the neighborhood coming together for local shops that have been there for decades!!