It's official: the space that was last occupied by Ozzie's Coffee, on Seventh Avenue and Lincoln Place, will next be home to a French/Hungarian cafe and wine bar, a partnership between Couleur Cafe owner Murat Ozcan and friend Gabor Ferencz.
As the lease was only signed ten days ago, there aren't too many specific details in place, but during a chat with Ozcan this morning, he made it clear that the goal is to become as much of a neighborhood gathering place as Couleur, which is down on the other end of the avenue, near 15th Street.
The menu will emphasize fresh, high-quality ingredients, prepared from scratch to order, like at Couleur, but the similarities will stop there. "This isn't a franchise," emphasized Ozcan. "The philosophy is the same, but it is completely different, a brand new project."
Ozcan has a great eye for design, and I'm happy to report that not only will they be preserving the vintage fixtures from the pharmacy that occupied the space nearly 100 years ago and working them into the design, they'll be restoring details that were covered up during its tenure as Ozzie's.
"We removed some wood paneling, and discovered that there were beautiful mirrors underneath," said Ozcan. "And under the ceiling panels we discovered a beautiful wood ceiling. They had both been damaged somewhat over the years, but we will be restoring them. It's our responsibility. Somebody did something nice here, so why would we destroy that?"
Ozcan met Ferencz (who's Hungarian) when they both worked at Rockefeller Center's Brasserie Ruhlmann (Ozcan managed the restaurant, and Ferencz bartended), and they remained friends over the years and jumped at the opportunity.
"It's a big space, with a big basement and lots of potential," said Ozcan.
As of right now, the plan is to combine the best of both worlds: the cafe/espresso bar will feature French coffee, breads, and pastries, and Hungarian cuisine will be featured in the menu of primarily small plates to go along with a selection of beer and wine (no liquor will be served due to the Berkeley Carroll School's proximity). The menu has yet to come together, but it will be geared toward the lighter side of Hungarian home cooking (even though that might sound like an oxymoron), and Hungarian pastries will most likely be on offer as well.
Regardless of the menu, Ozcan and Ferencz's main goal is to create a relaxed, comfortable space where the neighborhood can gather and enjoy coffee, a glass of wine, and a light meal.
"If we don't have neighborhood, we don't have life," mused Ozcan, who's originally from Paris. "A life lived alone is against human nature."