Feb. 24, By Michael Florio
A Long Island City architect who designs restaurants for a living is converting a vacant building above the Vernon Blvd/Jackson Ave subway station into a train-themed bar/restaurant.
The restaurant, to be called Station LIC, will be located at 10-37 Jackson Avenue, inside a triangular-shaped building that has been empty for more than a decade.
Gregory Okshteyn, a Center Blvd resident who will co-own Station LIC, uses the subway station every day and believes it is the perfect space for a hangout if the venue can be remodeled properly.
He said the location has a rich history. It was the home of a successful saloon called Blessinger’s and was also featured in the 1980’s Tom Cruise film ‘Cocktail.’
Okshteyn runs his own architecture firm called Studio Go, where he designs restaurants for businesses across the city. However, this will be the first restaurant of his own, which he will be opening with business partners Robert Bensky and Christopher Ferrante.
“It is my passion in life to design restaurants and it was par for the course to develop my own,” he said.
The location of the building played a large role in railroad theme design, he said.
“We have the Jackson Ave station right below us and you can literally hear the subway in our cellar…and we are one stop away from Grand Central station,” Okshteyn said.
He hopes this unique theme will draw people from other neighborhoods–as well as Manhattan residents.
“The train station theory is so much fun because it is a rich genre for decorative inspiration and it is also known for transporting people,” Okshteyn said. “When you go out, you want to feel like you are transported somewhere and taken away for a few hours.”
Okshteyn said that there is a need for a venue in the neighborhood like his.
“I realized that there are a lot of great restaurants in the area, but nowhere to go after you eat,” he said. “There are too many young, cool, hip people in this neighborhood in need of a local hangout.
Business partner Christoper Ferrante, who graduated from the Culinary Institute of America and ran Bar 89 in Manhattan, will design the menu.
The menu is still being designed but will feature small dishes such as fried eggplant parmesan w/smoked mozzarella; grass fed dry aged burgers; spice-rubbed roast chicken; bacon tater tots with white cheddar; cheese nachos with cilantro and jalapeño; and chicken wings.
Okshteyn plans to keep his architectural firm going while also owning the restaurant.
He hopes to open in May.
The development of the restaurant was first reported by the blog We Heart LIC.
Correction (The name Blessinger’s was spelled incorrectly when first published)