Passing by the depressing dust-gatherer that the Gage & Tollner building has become since losing its most recent tenant (TGI Friday's—shudder!) two years ago, I got to wondering what was up with the poor brownstone and its landmarked (and, I'm sure, unattended-to) interior. There are stop work orders all over the front and the inside looks to be in disarray.
This lead me to a comment made last August by Joseph Chirico, the last man to own an operate the Gage & Tollner space as Gage & Tollner. He told the New York Post that he had retained the "naming rights" to the famed eatery and hope to reopen "at a new location within two years."
If further proof were needed that Chirico—who also owns the Marco Polo restarant in Carroll Gardens—never knew what he had in Gage & Tollner, or how to run it, this is it.
Open at a new location? The very heart of the restaurant, which existed for 125 years, was its location. Gage & Tollner was upholding no grand culinary traditions when it closed. What it had in its favor was a perfectly preserved 19th-century interior. The 36 gas lamps, cherry-framed mirrors and mahogany tables stay on Fulton Street—they don't follow the name to whatever pile of bricks Chirico slaps the good names of Charles Gage and Eugene Tollner on. Jesus Christ. Does this need to be explained? The Four Seasons ain't the Four Seasons without Philip Johnson and the Seagram Building, and Gage & Tollner will never be Gage & Tollner anywhere but on Fulton in Downtown Brooklyn.
This bizarre idea of Chirico's, however, may explain why the Gage & Tollner signage has been removed from the brownstone. The etched letters in the window, gladly, can't be wiped away.