The red brick building at 4059 Broadway, the site of the old Corner Restaurant in Westport, has been empty for more than three years - just long enough for many people to have forgotten it was ever one of the most popular breakfast-and-lunch spots in midtown. I mean, after all, in the years before it finally closed, in 2010, the diner had gotten almost unbearably grimy, the food was mediocre and the service left everything to be desired.
Michael Pfeifer, who is reopening the Corner later this month with business partner Dawn Slaughter, was only 8 years old during the heyday of the Corner Restaurant, in the mid-1980s, when customers would happily stand in line on weekends, sometimes for over an hour, to get a table in the dining room. I remember those days well. You saw anyone who was anyone having breakfast (often somewhat awkwardly sharing a meal - if not too much conversation - with their romantic conquest of the previous night).
There's also a brand-new bar: This new Corner Restaurant will serve mimosas and bloody marys and other artisan cocktails created by Dawn Slaughter, a former bar manager who is making house-made syrups, including ginger, habanero pepper and peach, to use in her concoctions. The Roasterie has already developed a signature coffee blend for the Corner, which will serve three styles of French-press coffees each morning, but no espresso or lattes.
"If one of our customers wants to bring in one of those coffee drinks from one of our neighbors, like the Broadway Cafe," Pfeifer says, "that's all right."
Pfeifer worked as a server at the Hotel Phillips, Plaza III and Sullivan's Steakhouse before investing, with Slaughter, in the Corner Restaurant location. He had wanted to open a restaurant in the once-popular venue for years. "I used to come here in my 20s," he recalls, "and hang out with my friends."
When the new Corner opens at the end of the month, Pfeifer and Slaughter and chef Natasha Sears will revive many of the original restaurant's popular morning dishes, as well as introduce new items: German-chocolate pancakes and fried chicken and waffles. Pfeifer says the Corner will serve from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. seven days a week, but will offer late-night dining, from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m., Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.