New Restaurant on Tower Rising at Ground Zero

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Workers at Ground Zero are now getting a very different kind of restaurant with a view: Fast food at the top of the Freedom Tower they're building. (Published Wednesday, Dec 23, 2009)

    Fresh bread will soon be baking high above ground zero.

    The new World Trade Center got its first restaurant Wednesday -- a sandwich shop at the top of the Freedom Tower under construction.

    As the sun rose over the site of the Sept. 11 attack, a lift on a hydraulic jack hoisted the Subway restaurant up the signature skyscraper that marks the rebirth of the trade center's 16 acres. The shipping containers-turned-eatery will open in January and keep moving up as the tower is built to 105 floors.

    That was about the height of Windows on the World, a dining institution atop one of the original twin towers with a panoramic view of New York and its harbor.

    The Freedom Tower, which has five floors so far, is scheduled to be finished by 2013.

    Meals will be offered high in the sky for efficiency; to get food from street level, hundreds of ironworkers now use an elevator and must also climb.

    "This amenity will save time by allowing construction workers to stay in the tower throughout their shift rather than having to go all the way up and down," said Candace McAdams, spokeswoman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the agency that owns the World Trade Center site.

    A full Subway menu will be served, including the trademark $5 foot-long.

    Richard Schragger, who owns the Freedom Tower franchise, said he'll also offer extras no other Subway has: hot dogs, hamburgers and New York's famed pretzels.

    Like other franchises of the Milford, Conn.-based company, this one will bake its own bread daily — higher and higher above ground zero. As the tower grows, the lift will "jump" to the next new floor along with the restaurant, at a rate of one story about every week or two, engineers estimate.

    On Wednesday, nine bright yellow containers, each bearing an American flag, were lifted to the tower's fifth floor. There, they'll be stacked on a hydraulically powered platform near two cranes at the building's core. The resulting three-level structure will house a kitchen with refrigeration, an eating area and storage and trash, with a compost unit to recycle waste.

    Joseph Allegretti, a Subway field manager, acknowledges this restaurant gives the company spectacular advertising.

    "But it's also a great opportunity to be a part of history," he said.

    The fast-food chain was subcontracted by DCM Erectors, which fabricates and installs all of the tower's structural steel. Among nine bidders, Subway was the only one that did not demand a guarantee of profit, said Bill Grutta, DCM's vice president of operations.

    "They came back with an offer to do this at cost, and if there's a loss, we'll subsidize it," Grutta said, adding, "We're not looking to make money on the food, just to accommodate the ironworkers."

    The workers have only one 30-minute break, and as the tower rises, it could take as much as 45 minutes to get down, and the same to return.

    "How would they get lunch?" asked Grutta.

    Subway is not quite Windows on the World. But workers will have a view that keeps improving when they sit to dine atop One World Trade Center, the tower's future address.