3rd Ward co-founder Jason Goodman checked in with Fork in the Road earlier this afternoon to provide some more details about Goods, the trailer kitchen/outdoor dining spot he’s opening in an abandoned lot in Williamsburg on June 9.
Goods will be located at the corner of Metropolitan Avenue and Lorimer Street, and will feature a menu of what Goodman describes as “really simple, classic dishes made with really, really good ingredients.” Which means, for example, a hamburger made with a Pat LaFrieda blend, a cheeseburger that uses cheese from a New York state farm, and a hot dog made from organic meat that’s also locally sourced. “We wanted to make stuff everyone understands and would eat often,” Goodman says. “We’re not trying to reinvent wheel. We just wanted a neighborhood spot.”
That neighborhood spot, like just about every other food-related business in the city, has a somewhat convoluted history.
“We had our other 3rd Ward location across the street,” Goodman says of Goods’ new home. “We used to always walk by this empty, abandoned lot. It’s such great corner — it had these eight-foot-tall weeds and graffiti everywhere, and we imagined what a cool thing it would be for the community to hang out there and have some great food.”
The vision spawned what Goodman calls “a wild-goose chase” for the owners of the lot. It took a year to find them, and after swaying them with his idea, Goodman next entered a bureaucratic jungle. “It was a really complex jigsaw puzzle,” he recalls. Initially the plan was to construct an actual building, which involved some convoluted dealings with the Department of Buildings and the MTA, which owned the lot’s foundation walls. After realizing that they’d have to go mobile, Goodman and co. went to the Department of Consumer Affairs, which sent them back to the Department of Buildings to get something called a statement of no objection. The DOB claimed to have never heard of such a thing, and then it was off to the State Liquor Authority, and then to the Health Department for a mobile vending license.
Goodman found the 25-foot-trailer, a 1946 Spartan, in an upstate junkyard. He’s particularly proud of it, noting that its manufacturer made airplanes during World War II before turning to trailers after the war. The trailer’s gleaming curves, Goodman enthuses, capture “that whole postwar Americana thing, where you’d load the family up for a trip to Yosemite.” It’s “much cooler” than an Airstream, he says, though he concedes he’s “a little bit biased.”
The Spartan’s brand-new kitchen will be presided over by Alex McCrery, a former sous chef at Commander’s Palace in New Orleans who’s also a private chef. So far, neighborhood reaction to the menu McCrery is planning to serve has been “totally berserk,” Goodman says. “Everyone’s really excited about it, and people have been asking a lot of questions — the trailer gets people interested.”
The outdoor restaurant, which will seat 35, won’t be open in time to celebrate 3rd Ward’s fourth birthday this Saturday, but Goodman says there will be “some really awesome barbecue” instead.
And Goods isn’t the only food-related project on 3rd Ward’s dance card: its founders are developing a culinary center that Goodman says is “still in the planning phase.” Although the details are few and far between, he describes it as “conceptually related to 3rd Ward in the sense of looking for new ideas and turning underutilized things into assets.” If all goes according to plan, then a formerly underutilized lot will soon be an asset to the neighborhood.