The classic spot is back!
Brooklyn’s most beloved 19th century chophouse will return next week. Gage & Tollner, which closed in 2004 after 125 years serving oysters and steaks to Kings County’s ritziest residents, will open again as a restaurant on March 15. At a preview event on Sunday for friends and investors, one co-owner said that it was joy to see the upscale eatery buzzing again.
“It’s amazing — it’s just so wonderful to have people here, and having great conversation and eating and drinking,” said Ben Schneider. “It’s been a real long haul to get here.”
Schneider, with co-owners Sohui Kim and St. John Frizell, first toured the historic space while it sat empty almost three years ago. In the years since Gage & Tollner shuttered, it had housed a TGI Fridays, the fast-food joint Arby’s, and a costume jewelry store. Despite the many tenants, the 19th-century cherry-wood paneling, mirrors, and brass chandeliers remained intact, because the interior was declared a city landmark in 1975.
Today, leather and red velvet couches create booths beside each arched mirror in the long dining room, and brass coatracks sprout from silk wall coverings, which are so gorgeous that it seems a shame to cover them with a jacket. Choosing that perfect floral pattern, embroidered with gold thread on black silk, took “months and months and months and months,” said Frizell, but the owners finally settled on a pattern created by 19th century design icon William Morris.
“It’s gorgeous,” he said. “The original was a floral pattern, but it was cut velvet. This is embroidered silk, and it’s a William Morris pattern — he’s kind of a touchstone for what we want to do with the place.”
Overhead, the famous brass chandeliers have had their gas flames replaced with electric bulbs, in accordance with modern fire codes, and they light up a plaster ceiling covered with a silver wax.
Gage & Tollner will open on March 15 for dinner service, and a lunch will come later, said Frizell. The menu, designed by chef and co-owner Kim, features old-school seafood dishes like Oysters Rockefeller and She-Crab Soup alongside rib-eye steak, mutton chops, and fried chicken.
A marble bar up front serves impeccable cocktails that would feel right at home in the 1940s. One bartender, while serving a classic Old-Fashioned, noted that by remaining exactly the same, Gage & Tollner had achieved the refined retro look desired by the hottest contemporary cocktail bars.
Upstairs, work continues on two private dining rooms for special events, and on the Sunken Harbor Club, a contemporary tiki bar that will resemble the hull of a ship. Frizell estimates those spaces will take another six weeks or so to open.
“We had originally planned to open them at the same time, and in retrospect, what a ridiculous idea that is,” he said. “We’re going to be so busy running a big restaurant … we’re really going to have our hands full.”
Gage & Tollner [372 Fulton St. between Smith Street and Red Hook Lane Downtown, (347) 689–3677, gageandtollner.com]. Opens March 15 at 5 pm, then open daily, 5–11 pm. Reservations will be available on resy.com starting next week.