Gavin Compton, the owner of local coffee chain Variety Coffee Roasters, is now at the helm of Three Decker Diner in Greenpoint at 695 Manhattan Avenue, at Norman Avenue. Compton and Eduardo Sandoval —who operates Blue Collar, a burger spot with several NYC outposts, and Top Quality, a Mexican restaurant in Long Island City — took over the diner in July, just a few blocks from the Driggs Avenue location of Variety. The Greenpoint location had been a diner in some form since 1945; the previous owners had been in charge for around 35 years and wanted to retire, Sandoval tells Eater. He added that he’s spent the past couple of months training with the diner’s team to familiarize themselves with the operation. The duo remodeled the space during a temporary closure and reopened the doors earlier this month.
Much like with the Court Street Grocer team’s S&P, a relaunched luncheonette in the former home of Eisenberg’s in Flatiron, Three Decker has largely stayed the same under Compton and Sandoval’s watch — intentionally so.
“We’ve been slow to make changes, because, despite our backgrounds in restaurants, diners are a whole other beast. From the start, our main goals were to make sure we kept the entire staff and regulars alike,” says Compton.
Diner staples like pancakes and club sandwiches have remained, and prices have retained notable affordability. Some things have evolved in this iteration of Three Decker: Variety Coffee is, unsurprisingly, now the caffeine of choice. Sandoval also tells Eater that they’re slowly phasing out some of the Greek diner specialties in favor of Tex-Mex dishes that speak to his growing up in El Paso, Texas: bean and cheeses, fajitas, hard shell tacos, and quesadillas, are on the menu or will eventually join. The team plans to make breakfast pastries in-house by spring. Meanwhile, Compton says margarine has been swapped for butter, and frozen products are now fresh.
While the previous owners of Three Decker had a license to serve beer and wine, Sandoval and Compton have secured a license for cocktails, which means they can serve bloody Marys and other drinks of the sort. Currently, the diner closes at 8 p.m. most days, but the team is building out a backroom bar for late-night options. Eventually, the duo hopes to keep the diner open 24 hours a day — a rarity in the wake of the pandemic. “Ultimately the goal will be to be open 24 hours to serving the early morning workers and late-night revelers alike,” says Compton.
This isn’t the first time the duo worked together. In 2010 Compton opened his first restaurant called Miller’s Tavern, where Sandoval worked as sous chef and went on to run the kitchen. Later, in 2012, Compton’s partner at Miller’s opened the original Blue Collar in South Williamsburg; by 2019 Sandoval was brought in to take over operations at the burger joint. Compton is also a partner at pizzerias Ops and Leo.
Currently, the hours of operation are 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday, and until 8 p.m. on Wednesdays through Sunday.