Back in 2004. TGI Friday’s desecrated took over the space that Gage & Tollner had occupied since 1892, horrifying preservationists, foodie types, and regular people with a sense of decency alike. So when TGI’s vacated in 2007 and reports surfaced that Arby’s would be the next tenant (the place opens tomorrow), observers naturally feared, if not the worst, then something equally unfortunate.
But last week, Lost City got a preview of the space, and today reports that Arby’s has actually done some good.
Or more specifically, Raymond Chera, the franchisee, has: Chera has meticulously restored the restaurant’s interior, including its mirrors, coat hooks, and famed gaslight fixtures, as well as the wood and marble bar and frosted glass petitions, stamped with hook and anchor insignia, between the booths. Apparently, TGI wasn’t quite as concerned with historical preservation, and left the restaurant in a state almost as sorry as the average TGI entree.
So hooray for a fast-food franchise that actually takes the history of its surroundings into account, rather than paving, shellacking, and otherwise sucking the life out of them. But it’s still kind of deflating to consider that, beneath all of the painstakingly restored gaslights, they’ll still be slinging Arby’s at a place that was once part of what made New York uniquely New York. But hey, at least it’s not another Subway.