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Long-awaited restaurant opens March 1, offers free food

opendoor-licMarch 1, 2013 By Bill Parry

It’s hard to beat free American-style restaurant food.

Opendoor, the long-awaited bar/restaurant located at 10-09 50th Ave., will be opening its doors for the first time this weekend and will be offering diners free meals.

The restaurant is using the free event—or soft launch– to train its new kitchen and dining room staff.

The restaurant will be offering free meals on Friday and Saturday between 7pm and 10pm—as well as a Sunday brunch between 1 pm and 3pm.

A formal launch is expected to take place next week, once its liquor license comes through. In the meantime, diners are welcome to bring their own wine or beer.

While the food is on the house, the owners ask that diners tip the waiters and bartenders.

Opendoor, which will feature 16 craft beers on tap, offers small-plate American dishes and tapas. The restaurant seats nearly 100.

Opendoor has a staff of nearly 30– including four people who worked at Lounge 47 before it closed in December. “At least half the staff live so close they’ll be able to walk to work,” said Nick Guitart, a co-owner of the restaurant.

The staff has already undergone a three day structured training program, and this weekend’s opening is the next step. “You can teach people consistency, but you can’t teach personality,” Guitart said.

Gerard Ryan, one of the partners at Opendoor, will run the bar. A native of Tipperary, Ireland, Ryan’s been in the hospitality business since the age of 15. “This is fulfilling a lifelong dream,” said Ryan. “We’re looking forward to bringing a cozy tavern – we’re hoping for a Cheers kind of place.”

Guitart has worked in the restaurant business for 25 years, and has helped establish 11 restaurants along the way. This is the first time he’s doing it as an owner.

Guitart said he will be relieved once the restaurant is open.

“I’ve had nothing but surprises along the way,” he said, adding that several investors came and went along the way. Hurricane Sandy caused construction delays, and nearly a year passed while his landlord sorted out a structural issue in the basement.

A scaled down version of the waterfront Pepsi sign hangs over the dining room. The sign drew the attention of 83 year old Frank Corrado, known as the unofficial mayor of LIC.

“Once he saw the Pepsi sign he knew it was his kind of place,” Guitart said. “He gave us all the old pictures that decorate the walls. He even took some of them himself.”

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