Rivets and All, Old Tribeca Space Suits Gourmet Garage Owners

Adam Hartman, left, and Andy Arons are opening their sixth Gourmet Garage in this space at 366 Broadway. At the far end is a mezzanine where customers will be able to eat their purchases. Photo: Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib

Mar. 03, 2014

“We’ve been looking for 20 years for another space that’s open like this,” Ad­am Hartman was saying, as he stood with business partner Andy Arons in the long, vacant storefront at Broadway and Franklin Street that will house their sixth Gourmet Garage late this year.

The men last month had just an­nounced their intention to open a new store in the three-level, 8,500-square-foot space at 366 Broad­way, and they were eager to show a visitor around. Yes, there will be the produce and flowers, the long shelves (more than 150 feet of them) of prepared foods, the salad bar and all the rest that the popular chain of Man­hattan food shops offers.

But this pristinely maintained 113-year-old loft build­­ing in the Tribeca East Historic Dis­trict had a special allure. The building, they said, recalls the post-Civil War cast-iron structures in So­ho where Gourmet Garage got its start 20 years ago.

“It’s early 20th century, all steel from the Carnegie era,” said Har­t­man, placing a hand against one of the white pillars near the front entrance. He and Arons, it seems, admire every vintage de­tail of the building, right down to the rivets.

“They hit them the old fashioned way to build a super-strong column,” Hart­man said.

The owners said they had long been looking in Tribeca for a store space but wanted to wait for the competition to make their moves.

“We have some Fairways and Whole Foods down that away,” said Arons, pointing west. “We looked at the data and saw where a lot of people are coming  to live now and aren’t serviced.”

The storefront, owned by the building’s 32-unit co-op, had been vacant for about a year. One of the many Broadway jeans stores had occupied the space and the board didn’t want another one.

“These guys came along and we worked very hard with them,” Andy Freireich, the co-op president, said in a phone interview. “They love the building and they say they’re going to respect its historic aspects. So it’s going to be pretty nice.”

The dearth of grocery stores in eastern Tribeca should make it a success, Frei­reich added. “The neighborhood has a zillion buildings that are being converted and there’s never been any food down here. So we think it’s a good thing for both of us.”

The store could also be a good thing for artists. Hartman and Arons said this Gourmet Garage will have a food-for-art policy. They want to hang the work of local artists, street artists and students from nearby New York Academy of Art—all with the wide-ranging theme of “farm, table, food.”

“Everything you see should be filled with paintings and photographs,” said Arons, pointing to the expanse of wall space in the half-block-long store-to-be. “It should be spectacular.”