Aaron Lefkove insists that when he and Andy Curtin opened Littleneck in Gowanus three years ago, a second location was not part of the plan. But after that place became a neighborhood staple (and good reason to trvel to the neighborhood for people who live in other parts of NYC), the partners began to get a bit restless. “We kind of started to have this idea,” Lefkove says. “We wanted to do a restaurant that focuses more on things like sandwiches and things we can’t get away with in Gowanus.”
They began casting around for a bar, but they fell in love with a Greenpoint address that had been vacant for 35 years — and the landlord there definitely did not want a bar. “We started whittling away at the idea,” says Lefkove. “It took a long time to negotiate; the landlord didn’t want a restaurant.” And what emerged was Littleneck Outpost (128 Franklin Street, Brooklyn), a cafe that incorporates elements from the original location but offers the sandwiches the owners had dreamed of serving, plus coffee service and retail, too.
The restaurant fills a hole in the neighborhood, too: “There’s not a ton of lunch or early morning business over there,” says Lefkove. “For dinner, you have fantastic options — Paulie Gee’s, River Styx, and Alameda are all within just a couple of blocks of us. But for what we’re doing, there’s not that much else over there.”
Many of the new things on the menu at the Outpost come from experiments the Littleneck cooks have come up with for family meals or in their own time. There’s a mortadella sandwich that’s a riff on an Italian sub, for instance, and a chicken confit sandwich topped with the same bacon jam that’s on the burger at Littleneck. “It’s stuff we wouldn’t serve on our menu at Gowanus,” says Lefkove, though some items, like the lobster roll and pea shoot salad, will be available at both places.
The partners also installed an all day cafe, where they’re serving La Colombe coffee, pastries from Balthazar, and bread from Bakeri. You can get the house-cured arctic char that graces the Gowanus location’s brunch menu, or country ham on a mini baguette. There’s also a small retail selection stocking things like soap, aprons, specialty seafood, Chatham sheep’s yogurt, and in-house specialties like that bacon jam, tartar sauce, and cocktail sauce. “We’re working with a lot of friends,” says Lefkove.
And eventually, the duo may roll out a dinner service; Lefkove also has tentative plans for a wine list and a raw bar. “We’re still kind of in soft open mode,” he says. “We’re letting things fall into place.”
So does this mean Littleneck is gearing up for more expansion? Not necessarily: “Opening takes a lot out of you,” says Lefkove. “Right now, we’re really focused on making the restaurants as best they can be. Down the road, I have ideas for a dozen different concepts. But practically, we want to make these two concepts deliver on the vision.”
Lefkove also says he and Curtin have been really humbled by the neighborhood’s response to the business. “That everyone’s been so receptive to the idea is not lost on us,” he says. “We want to make everyone happy, and we want them to come in and have a great time.”
Littleneck Outpost is open daily from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 11, 2014