Arts and Entertainment | Food and Drink

Homestyle American restaurant Friedman’s Lunch opens on Amsterdam Ave

  • Soyun Jun / Senior Staff Photographer
    HEALTHY | Friedman’s offers locally sourced food and alcohol, with a beer and burger special from Monday through Friday.
  • Soyun Jun / Senior Staff Photographer
    BUSY | The restaurant anticipates higher demand and expanding its hours once students and faculty return in August.
  • Soyun Jun / Senior Staff Photographer
    EXPANSION | This is the fourth Friedman’s in the city; chef Justin Brunwasser looks forward to the restaurant's future growth.

Another farm-to-table restaurant has landed in Morningside Heights.

Friedman’s Lunch—which offers gluten-free options, homemade comfort food, seasonally changing menu items, and delivery—opened Wednesday at 1187 Amsterdam Avenue. The restaurant also has locations in Chelsea Market and Midtown.

The restaurant’s local sourcing and gluten-free focus differentiates it from Morningside Heights’ standard fare. Chef Justin Brunwasser—who has spent seven years whipping up gluten-free dishes—is confident that Friedman’s is a qualified candidate for an underserved niche.

“There’s a lack of high-quality restaurants with good service and high-quality food, in the gluten-free aspect,” Brunwasser said. “We source as much of our product from local farms as possible.”

Brunwasser also emphasized the restaurant’s focus on affordability, noting the lack of high-quality food at a decent price in the neighborhood. Burgers range from $12 to $15, with salads, sandwiches, and entrees priced from $10 to $15, and a number of market sides for $5. There is also a $15 beer and burger special from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday.

The pricing is geared toward the students and faculty of Columbia—for the month of July, the presentation of a Columbia ID will result in a 20 percent discount.

“We’ve kind of hit a market that is needed in dining right now, which is the affordable food with a lot of value attached to it,” Brunwasser said. “What I mean by that is you get a lot for your money, for your time.”

The restaurant’s local sourcing and affordable pricing are indicative of its larger goal:to become a community establishment.

“This is a place that we tend to see our customers coming three, four times a week,” Brunwasser said. “It's a community-focused restaurant first and foremost, so each restaurant— although they’re all Friedman’s—embody their own communities, and every restaurant has its own flavor attached to that.”

The community focus is augmented by the restaurant’s reliance on local producers, providing its customers an often overlooked confidence in the origin and quality of their food.

“There’s not a large semi pulling up and unloading food that’s been mass produced across the country and shipped to us,” General Manager Shawn Ward said. “You can feel really good about eating here because you’re supporting local businesses and local farms, and we’re supporting small businesses within the New York economy.”

The name comes from free-market economist Milton Friedman, who coined the phrase “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” According to Brunwasser, this reflects the restaurant’s attempt to offer its customers the most bang for their buck.

Friedman’s Lunch—which is joining a new slew of upscale dining options on Amsterdam Avenue, including Serafina, a new outpost of the New York Italian chain, and bistro Flat Top—expects to expand its hours as school reopens and as the demand continues to grow.

“Every time we open a restaurant, it’s not so much for the people that are working in the restaurant as for the people that are dining in the restaurant,” Brunwasser said. “It’s our home, but we open our doors to welcome the people in the community and make it a second home to them.’

Friedman’s Lunch, located at 1187 Amsterdam Ave., is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. For the month of July, students and faculty of Columbia University will have a 20 percent discount with CUID.

anne-marie.bompart@columbiaspectator.com | @annem_bompart

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