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With the news that the World Financial Center might lease 25,000 square feet to the Poulakakos restaurant family to build a food court similar to Eataly, suddenly the Poulakakos’ group now dominates Battery Park City (BPC) and both of the ongoing Battery Park City Authority (BPCA) construction projects. All of these real estate deals were accomplished without public comment or debate. Despite the importance to the community, the BPCA board, comprised of appointed, not elected, officials sanctioned the events behind closed doors.
Community Board 1 member John Fratta has been critical of the awarding of Pier A to the Poulakakos family. He called it “A slap in the face to the Italian community” because he had hoped for an Italian museum at Pier A to compliment the Jewish and Irish museums nearby in BPC. Instead, secretly and without public comment or debate, the plans are now shaping up for Pier A to house a Poulakakos-run oyster bar, complete with the docking of large tour boats that will also attract many tour buses.
In 2012, Goldman Sachs also awarded a commercial unit in their alley of shops to the Poulakakos family to run Harry’s Italian. The food has received mixed reviews, with some liking the pizza, but many not having high praise for the Italian entrees. It is certainly no Il Giglio or Maialino, to be sure.
The other Poulakakos restaurants on Stone Street and Peal Street are mostly bars with pub food, like fried cheese sticks and wings. Harry’s steakhouse, the flagship of the family, has never achieved top-tier status amongst steakhouses.
Now, the Brookfield-managed World Financial Centers, renovated and to be called “Brookfield Place” (as residential units are also planned to be converted), is close to closing a lease with the Poulakakos family to manage a 25,000 food court. The decision was not discussed at the most recent BPCA meeting.
BatteryPark.TV spoke with John Fratta on the phone as he was on vacation in Florida. When asked whether the Poulakakos family should be required to divest the planned Pier A restaurant in exchange for being allowed to occupy the WFC, he said, “That is not a bad idea.” He indicated that he might include the matter on the next CB1 agenda.
Coincidentally, BP.TV had recently chatted with famed restaurateur Danny Meyer about opening a gourmet grocery store with restaurants in the same WFC space. He replied, “Thanks, but we have enough bandwidth right now.” With no other tenants signed up, and it being the year 2013 already, Brookfield might not have many other options than the Poulakakos lease.