A new cafe has been cleared for landing in the Byrd Park neighborhood.
Following a thumbs up Monday from City Council, the team behind New York Deli now has all the necessary city approvals to open The Byrd’s Nest, a cafe and restaurant at 401 S. Stafford Ave.
The final step needed was a council vote for the group’s special-use permit, which was required because the Byrd’s Nest’s building is zoned for residential uses. Council voted unanimously in favor of it.
The approval marked the end of a years-long planning process for New York Deli co-owners Demetrios Tsiptsis, Rodion Tsiptsis and David Zemlan, who bought the 2,000-square-foot building at the corner of Idlewood, Grayland and South Stafford avenues in 2016.
“We didn’t think we’d put something in right away, but we thought it had the potential for a nice little sandwich spot or cafe,” Zemlan said of their thinking at the time of the purchase.
In late 2021 the trio began planning the restaurant and tapped Baker Development Resources to help pursue the special-use permit.
The group worked with the neighborhood to draw up conditions in the special-use permit, including limitations on the restaurant’s outdoor seating capacity (no more than 24 people), hours of operation (8 a.m. to 9 p.m.), and types of alcohol it can serve (beer and wine only).
The Byrd’s Nest’s special-use permit received support from the city’s planning staff and the Byrd Park Civic League, but a handful of local residents opposed the project. The city’s Planning Commission delayed voting on the matter six times before it voted on the proposal last month.
“The neighbors felt strongly about what the place should be. Their input made the concept better,” Zemlan said.
The Byrd’s Nest’s tentative menu is heavy on sandwiches, and Zemlan said they’ll plan to have a few entrees on the dinner menu.
“We’re going to put a couple bike racks out so people can ride over, stop, grab a cup of coffee and a sandwich,” Zemlan said. “I envision a lot of people picking up food and going to the park – essentially getting a picnic basket.”
Zemlan said they’re hoping to begin work on the restaurant as soon as possible.
“It’s a shell. It has plumbing and electrical but it all needs to be upgraded, and we’ve got to build a bathroom and put in kitchen equipment,” he said, adding they’re aiming for a spring 2024 opening.
A restaurant had occupied the building in the 1990s but the downstairs has been vacant for around 10 years. The two-bedroom apartment upstairs has been occupied, Zemlan said.
Zemlan and the Tsiptsises have been busy with construction of late. Last year they added a rooftop deck to their Carytown restaurant, and they’re also currently working on renovating the former Lady N’awlins space on Main Street. They bought the space in the Fan last fall and are working with a New York Deli employee to open a new restaurant there.
Imagine that: mixed uses on the same block in the City! And if you haven’t been on the rooftop of the NY Deli, you’re missing out.