Pandemic or not, the Jacx in Long Island City — one of the city’s long-planned mega-developments from real estate powerhouse Tishman Speyer — is pushing forward this month with the opening of Jacx & Co, a slick new food hall located at 28-17 Jackson Avenue near Queens Boulevard.
The bi-level, 11,000-square-foot space stands apart from other sprawling, multi-million-dollar NYC food hall developments in that it houses just nine small operators — compared to the 20 or 30 vendors at places like the Market Line in the Lower East Side and Time Out Market in Dumbo — and aims to cater to both office lunch crowds in the building and residents in the surrounding neighborhoods.
“It’s really a piece that we believe that Long Island City was missing,” says Jacx & Co’s general manager Daniel Cabrera.
The starting lineup of food vendors includes some expansions from established names, like a new outpost of Chef JJ Johnson’s critically-acclaimed rice bowl spot Fieldtrip; another location of Taïm, Chef Einat Admony’s popular mini-chain of falafel shops; and a fourth sushi shop from Kissaki, which has been on an expansion tear during the pandemic.
But the most exciting entries here are the newcomers. Ghaya Oliveira, a James Beard Award-winning pastry chef and a 19-year veteran of Daniel Boulud’s flagship restaurant Daniel, is striking out on her own with the opening of Ghaya, an all-day cafe that marks Oliveira’s first standalone venture.
At Ghaya, Oliveira dabbles in sweet treats — including palm-sized lemon tarts and pumpkin pie with chai whipped cream — but the menu mainly features a variety of savory Tunisian dishes that combine her upbringing with her French culinary training. The cafe’s poulet ($15.85) features roasted chicken drumsticks crusted with bits of pistachio, echoing a dish that Oliviera’s mother would make for her growing up; and the pkaila ($15) — a well-known Tunisian cooked spinach dish — here is spread over a square of pide bread, along with smoked ricotta, and topped with fried chickpeas and cayenne pepper.
“I want people to know that I can cook, not just make desserts,” Oliveira says. “Pastry was always work. At home, I’m always cooking food.”
The hit-making team behind LES Thai spot Wayla and Italian-Japanese Nolita stunner Kimika will also be opening up a new restaurant inside Jacx & Co. Lotus + Cleaver is a fast-casual spot specializing in a mix of traditional and modern Chinese food, including barbecue meats such as a heritage pork char siu and rotisserie chicken paired with flavorful vegetable dishes like charred Chinese broccoli tossed in a black garlic vinaigrette. Diners can mix and match the meats and vegetables in make-your-own bowls for $12 to $14 apiece.
Lotus + Cleaver marks a return to the restaurant group’s fast-casual beginnings, partner Erika Chou says. The team first made a splash in NYC with dumpling and noodle spot Northern Tiger at Battery Park City food hall Hudson Eats. That restaurant recently closed down due to the pandemic.
The food hall will also be home to Al Volo, a new Italian restaurant selling paninis, pasta, arancini, and salads from the same team behind LIC brick-oven pizza spot Levante. Secondary locations of hit East Village hot dog spot Crif Dogs; LIC pizzeria Beebe’s; and Méxology, the casual Mexican spot from former Dos Caminos and Rosa Mexicano veteran chef Ivy Stark, round out the vendor openings. A central bar run by the food hall — featuring cocktails that pair with each vendor’s menu — is also in the works.
According to Jacx & Co’s Cabrera, the mix of vendors was chosen with an eye towards highlighting Queens-based restaurateurs — Beebe’s, Ghaya, and Al Volo — alongside brands that have already made a splash in other boroughs but have yet to open Queens outposts, including Fieldtrip and Taim.
The food hall sits at the base of the Jacx’s two 26-level towers housing office tenants including Macy’s, WeWork, and New York-Presbyterian and Weill Cornell Medicine; and across from a residential tower called Jackson Park outfitted with over 1,800 luxury apartments.
While there will be a large built-in customer base thanks to the towers, Cabrera says that the team built the vendor mix with general public appeal in mind, too. “The goal of this location is obviously for our office tenants upstairs and for the people at Jackson Park,” he says. “But we really wanted it to be a place where people from every borough come in.”
Like other food halls across the city, Jacx & Co is outfitted with pandemic health safety features including a central online ordering site for takeout and delivery (most vendors are available now, with Ghaya, Crif Dogs, and Al Volo to be added to the site by next week) and tabletop QR codes for ordering inside the space. The food hall is currently set up for indoor dining with 91 seats available under the current 25 percent capacity restrictions.
Jacx & Co is open starting this week for takeout, delivery, and indoor dining from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, with weekend hours to follow. Ghaya is separately open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. each weekday. Outdoor dining is not yet available at the space.
The full vendor list
- Al Volo, an Italian restaurant serving paninis, arancini, and more
- Beebe’s, a crispy, thin-crust pizzeria
- Crif Dogs, a second location of the inventive hot dog and burger joint
- Fieldtrip, chef JJ Johnson’s acclaimed rice bowl shop
- Ghaya, an all-day Tunisian cafe from pastry chef Ghaya Oliveira
- Kissaki, a sushi spot known for its sub-$100 omakases
- Lotus + Cleaver, a fast-casual Chinese spot from the team behind Wayla and Kimika
- Méxology, chef Ivy Stark’s fast-casual Mexican spot
- Taïm, chef Einat Admony’s popular falafel chain