NEW YORK — It takes a certain brand of moxie to open a gastro pub without the pub element. And yet that’s exactly what restaurateurs Jason Hennings and Bob Giraldi will do when they open their long-anticipated East Village restaurant European Union on Friday — without a liquor license.
Since renovations began on the former church warehouse at East Fourth Street and Avenue B a year ago, the duo has been battling a contentious community board concerned that the 1,800-square-foot restaurant will attract unwelcome noise and traffic.
“You can do heroin across the street,” grumbles Giraldi, “but not drink here.” Still, they have submitted a second application, this time for beer and wine only, and expect it will take at least three months for approval.
In the meantime, chef Gwenaël Le Pape, formerly of Django and Les Halles, will be dishing out inventive versions of European classics — like Croque Madame made with duck eggs and prosciutto — from the open kitchen. To deflect attention from the lack of booze, waiters will offer mixed drinks made with European sodas and exotic ingredients like elderflower.
The interior decor, designed by AvroKO, has a casual bistro feel with exposed brick, low black leather banquettes and craft-paper place mats, and the simply styled staff uniforms are from Calvin Klein Jeans. In fact, the design house will be among the restaurant’s first guests when it fetes a high-profile celebrity with a private dinner on Monday.