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Elmi to expand Laurel on East Passyunk

A new room, with a bar, next door will effectively double the size of the Top Chef's restaurant.

Laurel - Top Chef winner Nicholas Elmi's plush, snug BYOB on East Passyunk Avenue - is among the toughest tables in town.

Opportunity has knocked for Elmi, and it's right next door.

He has agreements in place to expand 1615 E. Passyunk Ave., which for a very brief spell was a coffeeshop called Dante. (If you're looking at Laurel's front door, it's the storefront to the left. Same landlord.)

Elmi tells me that he plans to work through the summer to renovate the space, which will add a bar. After Laurel's usual vacation at the end of August, Elmi plans to combine the spaces and then reopen to offer a wine and spirit program to enhance the experience.

Elmi says Laurel will still offer BYOB "in some capacity."

Laurel recently shed seats in a bid to improve the experience; it's down to 20 seats from previous configurations that accommodated as many as 26.

The new space will add 12 seats, with bar seating of about 12.

The front of the two spaces will be connected through a door and via the kitchens in the rear.