80 Franklin Street, most recently home to IRL Gallery, will soon house a new neighborhood hangout.
Cecily is the brainchild of Kristin Ma, Stephan Ilnyckyj, and Tara Noble. Ma, currently a sommelier at the Michelin-starred Estela, and Ilnyckyj, who heads the kitchen at Lalou in Prospect Heights, both live in Greenpoint and wanted to create a restaurant that reflects the character of the neighborhood. They teamed up with Noble, who runs a consulting firm specializing in New York City restaurants and catering businesses.
Cecily will function as an all-day kind of place, serving as a cafe during the day, and a restaurant at night. The focus will be on natural wines and seasonal, vegetable-forward dishes. While the space has a long way to go before opening to the public, they’re aiming for a spring/summer 2023 opening.
The trio emphasized their fondness for the neighborhood and the steps they’ve taken to include nearby residents in the planning process. They recently met with Assemblymember Emily Gallagher and hosted an open house for neighbors to learn more about the restaurant firsthand, which they said garnered a positive response.
“I worked in a lot of fancy restaurants because I thought it would be the best place to learn how to cook, but ultimately I like small neighborhood vibes and going and knowing who’s cooking the food,” Ilnyckyj told Greenpointers before Wednesday’s open house. “Living in the neighborhood where you work, I think that sense of community is important and is the best version of life that I like.”
It took about 10 months of searching to find the perfect location in Greenpoint, as the group felt adamant about staying in the neighborhood and finding a way to give back to the community.
“We didn’t want to be extractive — we want to be a part of the neighborhood…The neighborhood is quickly changing and the people who have been here for a long time are really protectionist,” said Ma.
Noble, a born and raised Brooklynite who has seen her own Prospect Heights neighborhood rapidly develop over the years, understands the trepidation that locals might have with new businesses. “Whatever experience I have in watching gentrification happen, I would love to bring to the process of opening a place and trying to figure out how to do it a little better,” she said. For Cecily, that means no sidewalk seating, no live amplified music, and a zero-tolerance policy on smoking outside.
Aside from quality food and wine and acting as conscientious neighbors, the team feels strongly about creating a healthy and sustainable work environment. Restaurants demand notoriously long hours and low wages, but Cecily plans to employ business practices that protect employees. “Long-term full time positions will have an array of benefits, including a profit sharing model that we designed to give back to the community, and paid volunteer hours to allow employees to give back on the clock,” according to a one-pager passed out at the recent open house.
Cecily plans to host another open house within the coming weeks. For all other questions and concerns, please contact Tara (firstname.lastname@example.org).