May 20, 2016 By Christian Murray
The owner of SHI and three of his employees are partnering up for a Japanese restaurant that will be opening on Jackson Avenue at the beginning of 2017.
The restaurant, which will be called Sapps, will be in a 2,200-square-foot space located next door to Dutch Kills Bar at 27-26 Jackson Ave.
Eric Lehrer, who has been a bartender at SHI for eight years, is one of the partners in the venture, along with SHI bartender Charlie Kim and long-time waiter Selix Lai. The three men—all western Queens residents—join Shih Lee, the well known owner of the Center Boulevard restaurant SHI.
“Shih has been a mentor to me,” Lehrer said, adding that he has learned a great deal about the restaurant industry from his long-time boss. “He is like an older brother.”
Carlos Calle, the former chef at Sapporo East in the East Village, will be running the kitchen. The restaurant will offer primarily Japanese food and there will be a sushi bar.
While the menu has not yet been finalized, it will be different from the Asian fusion offered at SHI.
Lehrer said that Sapps will be classy and will have a good vibe.
“We want people to have a good time, listen to good music, feel comfortable,” he said.
Lehrer said that their goal is to help provide an upbeat spot for Court Square residents that will be much more than a restaurant.
The restaurant will feature a mezzanine with room for about 30 patrons. Lehrer said that this space will be available for private events such as baby showers.
The ground floor level will have space for about 50 diners.
Lehrer said that all four partners were determined to have a venue in the greater neighborhood.
“Long Island City is a small town where everyone knows each other,” Lehrer said. “We like it here since we have so many relationships.”