Gourmet Gossip: May
In this great dining city of ours, barely a day passes without news of an exciting restaurant opening, a devastating closing, a shocking chef shuffle, or a groundbreaking, must-try dish. That’s why we’re keeping you apprised of the industry’s most noteworthy bits and bites — time to pour one out for Craftbar, Bouley and Po.
Oh Po: Mario Batali is hardly hurting for real estate in NYC, but it’s nevertheless a bummer that his longstanding West Village stalwart, Po (which he co-founded in 1993), is the latest casualty of an untenable rent increase. Thanks to a staggering, 120% leap (setting the asking price at 10K per month), the Italian trattoria shuttered last Wednesday, setting a dismal tone for other area eateries, whose leases are up for similar ‘negotiation.’
Dropping the Bar: Compared to Po, Craftbar’s 50% hike seems comparatively reasonable — still, it’s proved too rich for Tom Colicchio’s blood. That’s why he quietly closed his most casual eatery on April 29th, with plans to eventually reopen elsewhere. Although if the “Top Chef” star can’t make it work in the current economy, it sure is tough to hold out hope for anyone else.
Momo Maestro: While it’s been an ongoing struggle for independently-owned restaurants to stay afloat, veritable dynasties like Momofuku are having no such trouble. In fact, David Chang just hired an official president to oversee operations nationwide. Formerly of the Batali-Bastianich group (which remains equally prosperous, the aforementioned Po notwithstanding), new executive Alex Munoz-Suarez will bring his corporate clout to bear on Chang’s notoriously irreverent empire.
Bou(ley) Hoo: While not a surprise, David Bouley is readying to (officially) close his fine dining flagship by June, and plans to (perhaps) debut a scaled down, 20-seat model within the year. In the meantime, he’s keeping things casual with a Flatiron wine bar called B at Home, which should launch next to his test kitchen in late summer.
License to Grill: In case it seemed well-heeled diners no longer had safe haven in New York, think again — the Major Food Group’s revamp of The Four Seasons is currently accepting reservations. They’re testing the waters first with The Grill Room, offering luxe, bygone dishes like Dover Sole, Lobster Newburg and Prime Rib, presented and served tableside from bespoke silver trolleys.
Market Madness: UrbanSpace is further increasing its food market footprint, by launching its second brick-and-mortar in Midtown. Just like its Grand Central-adjacent Vanderbilt location, the sprawling spot will boast a veritable who’s who of edible vendors (think Roberta’s, Amali, Red Hook Lobster Pound and more), this time occupying a three-story, 11,400-square foot space.