Pantry is aiming for a June opening at 24-20 Jackson Avenue.1 As we look forward to the delivery of the restaurant, we sat down with owners Billy Demos and Konstantinos Kousiaris to find out more about what’s to come.
The Court Square Blog: Tell us about your menu.
Billy Demos: It’s a fast, casual grab and go style menu with a selection of items. We have hot and cold sandwiches, a salad bar with signature salads, as well as a hot table that will consist of local, seasonal items with different types of vegetables, grains and proteins to choose from. We’re also going to serve locally roasted coffee, which we are super excited about.
TCSB: Are you going to be catering to all meals of the day?
BD: Yes, of course. Our morning menu will have a selection of bagels, breakfast sandwiches, avocado toasts, as well as some signature breakfast dishes. At lunch our costumers will have the option to choose from our salad bar, gourmet sandwiches, and seasonal hot dishes. Our lunch menu will extend through the evening, with some additional hardy dishes for the dinner crowd.
Konstantinos Kousiaris: Breakfast and lunch is definitely going to be the hottest thing. For the evening hours, we plan to see what the neighborhood will demand. We are a store that can transform from morning to night. One minute you’re grabbing, but at night, you can have a delicious meal and just come hang out. A younger, more upbeat mood and vibe.
TCSB: The décor here is very unique. How did you decide on it?
BD: To tell you the truth, we had an idea in mind, but we didn’t know exactly how it would come out at first. We knew we wanted to have a farm essence in the space, but also wanted to keep it modern. We know that the area is changing – it’s up and coming – and wanted to make sure the design fits into the neighborhood.
KK: We wanted the barn feel, the farm feel, and then the steel, tying into the industrial past of the neighborhood. Kind of the farm to Long Island City feel.
TCSB: Why Long Island City, and why Court Square?
BD: We always had the idea in mind, but we never pushed forward with it until I happened to come upon this space. We’re all from Queens, and wanted to keep it local. Our family and friends own restaurants in Manhattan, which can be a little too crowded. We knew the area because we’re in real estate. When we saw the space, we knew that this was an up and coming area, and we have tons of people moving in.
KK: We have family in the restaurant business but their restaurants are a little more traditional. We wanted to put a young, modern flare on it. What better place than LIC? It’s changing overnight. It’s changed overnight. We want to be a part of the change. Our goal is to have quality and consistency, which is what LIC looks for.
TCSB: You’ve mentioned farm to table a lot during this interview. Where does that philosophy come from?
BD: People want good quality food, and they want to know where it’s being sourced from. We want to do it locally. We went with that. Ideally, we want to have all of our food be local. Our breads are baked locally. Our coffee is locally roasted. Eventually, all of our food will be, too. The idea is to serve the best quality food at a fair price. We come from Greek families, and growing up we all had a garden in our backyards. Even in our homes in Queens, we had a square vegetable garden. Our parents taught us to eat the best quality food possible, and that’s what we plan to deliver as well.
KK: When we all get together as a family, it’s often out east on the North Fork of Long Island. We go out to the farm, grab our vegetables, throw them on the grill, and have a great time. Why not do it in a store? It’s our passion, so why not do that here?
TCSB: How do you all know each other?
KK: We’re all family. It’s a family owned and operated business.
TCSB: What is your timeline to open?
BD: Middle to late June is what we’re aiming for. We’re on track. We’ll have a couple soft openings. But by late June we should have doors open and we’ll be ready to go. We’re getting a lot of attention which is nice. I never thought there would be so many people excited for this store to open up. Once the paper went down, a lot of people starting dropping by and asking when we we’re going to open. It makes us feel good that people in the area want us to be here. We’re excited for it, and that’s what we’re aiming for – it’s not just a business. We want to please people and we want to be a staple in the neighborhood. Before us, it was Sage General Store. We never ate there, but we heard a lot about them. That’s what we’re trying to do as well. We want to be here for the long haul.
TCSB: How did you come up with the name ‘Pantry?’
KK: Many months of debating [laughs], but at the end of the day, we thought: You want to eat something in your home, you look in your pantry first – where some of the best food is kept. We want to be the first stop in LIC for the best kept foods. The idea evolved over time and we’re happy with it.