Dining in the Lighting District

| 17 Feb 2015 | 05:08

The Randolph reinvents itself amidst a string of retail lighting stores

Lower East Side What the Randolph lacks in prime real estate, it makes up for in soul. Located off of the Bowery in the heart of the Lighting District, the Randolph at Broome (349) is primarily a craft beer and coffee outpost, and Randolph Beer (343) is a full service restaurant. While the twin spaces are just blocks from all of the action on Spring Street, you probably haven't stumbled upon either one unless you live nearby-or if you've followed the sound of the Bluegrass Band.

When co-owner Dylan Hales and his partners, Hari Kalyan, Dave Plate, and Eli Hariton, showed up to see an online real estate listing in "SoHo," they found something a little more "in-between," nestled in the matrix of SoHo, Chinatown, and the Lower East Side.

Interestingly enough, the fact that the neighborhood was still somewhat gritty when they arrived is what drew them in the most.

"When we first got here, this was a dilapidated lighting store," said Kaylan. "The realtor told us this was going to be the 'Meatpacking of the East,' but it was mostly old Chinese families. We loved it anyway, because we didn't want to be surrounded by commercial space."

The boys decided to take a chance and bought Randolph at Broome. A few years later, they did it again, buying what is now Randolph Beer and installing a 37-foot-bar in the former Elite Lighting space.

Sadly, that bar has overshadowed the food prepared by Chef David Schaap, a renaissance man who has worked side by side with Michelin Starred chefs, food truck cooks, and the staff of Rao's in Harlem.

Randolph Beer serves a satisfying and healthy kale and grain salad, but the best thing going for that kale is its place on top of the menu. Once your eyes scroll down, they'll catch its competition: double fried chicken thighs, a classic cheeseburger with add-on options that include a fried egg and bacon marmalade, green curry mussels, and evil sprouts, which are Brussels sprouts served with maple glaze and bacon lardon.

For brunch, you can chow down on breakfast nachos or shrimp and grits while listening to a nameless bluegrass band that features an endless rotation of random new members every Saturday afternoon.

"We never know who we're going to be listening to," said Hales. "Last weekend we had two 17-year-old twins playing the Ukulele jamming out with the old men."

This summer, you'll find the boys throwing regular beach party-fundraisers for the NYC Coalition Against Hunger (50 Broad Street), to which they also donate 25¢ from every burger sold.

"We've seen their impact firsthand, with the homeless guys on the Bowery," said Hales. "It's a good streamlined charity whose proceeds really go toward the people who need it."