Ask ten Islanders about the impending fate of the former Trellis diner at the north end of Good Shepherd Plaza, and you’re likely to get ten different answers.
“The question I get asked more than anything else is, ‘What is happening with Trellis,’” says RIOC board member Margie Smith.
The diner, once a favorite haunt of Islanders looking for a place to linger over a cup of coffee or to gather with neighbors, closed in September of 2014 to begin a renovation project that was supposed to take three to four months.
Now renamed NISI, the diner has been reimagined as a Greek restaurant. And, to the casual observer, it looks nearly ready to open its doors. Vases of flowers sit perched on a couple of tables near the windows – exactly as they have for months.
The future home of NISI, formerly Trellis.
“I know it’s very hard to hear the same thing over and over,” says Alex Kaplan, spokesperson for Hudson Related. “It’s the story of a very well-intentioned operator who has had every misfortune happen to him during this renovation process.”
Almost immediately after beginning renovations, the owners ran into trouble. One of the walls marked for demolition in the design plans approved by the Department of Buildings turned out to be a load-bearing wall. Kaplan says the latest setback has had to do with the restaurant’s plumbing and gas inspections.
“One inspector comes in and tells him it should be done this way, and the next person comes in and tells him something different. It’s just one thing of many,” says Kaplan.
Still, she’s optimistic that things are now on the right track. “We have no reason to believe he is not going to open. He will open. It will happen. He’s put a lot into this.”