Strong Buzz is reporting that the Employees Only guys have abandoned the onetime speakeasy at 21 West 9th Street that was going to be Zeppelin. Partner Jason Kosmas tells us why exactly: “We’ve turned over the keys and put it in the hands of our lawyer because we didn’t want to begin construction till they remediated certain leaks and molds.” Kosmas says it was unclear whether this was the responsibility of the co-op or of a tenant who was acting as a sub-landlord of the space. Having contracted the former Marylou’s back in April, he and his partners, who were hoping to begin construction in January, got sick of waiting on a timeline for the work. They're currently looking for a new location (preferably in the same area), and chef Keith Harry is still onboard.
The Strong Buzz for January 28 [Strong Buzz]
Earlier:Zeppelin Hits a Snag, Won't Open Till Later Next Year
Julia Jaksic, underground-dinner-club hostess and consulting chef at Smith and Mills, has been named head chef at Employees Only (where she was previously a sous-chef) and has completely revamped the menu. Look for nods to her Croatian heritage: A hamburger that’s served on a fluffy pita with pepper paste and carmac, and (on the brunch menu) polenta with smoked bacon and sauerkraut and brown butter. A hamburger that’s served on a fluffy pita with pepper paste, and (on the brunch menu) polenta with smoked bacon and sauerkraut and brown butter. Berkshire bacon makes another appearance wrapped around New Zealand lamb chops — an appetizer that’s fast becoming the Employees Only equivalent of Freemans’ devils on horseback. The late-night menu has also been jazzed up, surely good news for industry types still reeling from the loss of wee hours eating at Mas (farmhouse).
Employees Only dinner menuRelated:Sign Up for Secret Dinner Club's Weekend Time Warp
Visitors to Employees Only last night were greeted by a fearsome sight: a no-nonsense doorman doing everything in his power to keep out non-invitees to the bar’s annual Repeal Day party. A lot of places try to embrace the retro vibe, but nobody goes as crazy for it as EO. Period dress was required and the beau monde swells attempted to outdo each other in obstreperous costuming. Cabaret superstar Lady Rizo sang on the bar while her backup dancers, the “Assets,” of course, stripped. Even Smashing Pumpkins' James Iha looked natty.
Fall previews had Zeppelin, the forties-themed American brasserie from the folks behind Employees Only, opening in November or December, but we now have official word that the joint, to be located in a former speakeasy, won’t be throwing open its doors until 2008. And not early 2008 — we may be talking summer here. In the meantime, Employees Only’s annual Prohibition party is coming up soon — we plan to kill the pain of this news with some serious ladles of Prohibition punch.
Related:Employees Only to Land a Zeppelin on 9th Street, and Eventually, Macao?
Getting information out of the staff of Employees Only is much, much harder that getting drinks out of them — but we were able to extract two interesting bits of information out of bartender and co-owner Jason Kosmas. The first is that E.O.’s new spinoff restaurant on West 9th Street now has a name to go along with its forties theme (which, we are told, will include period costumes for the entire staff). It will be called Zeppelin and is still “months away” from opening. The other tidbit, though vague, was intriguing.
Last November we were the first to predict that the Beatrice would be the hipstaurant of the season. Um, we told you so? Now from Beatrice (and Employees Only) partner Matt Abramcyk comes another contender — this one occupying a former carriage house in the Tribeca nether lands. Smith and Mills is one of the smallest restaurants we’ve ever set foot in, but on this, its opening day, we don’t think it’s too early to say it may just be the next big thing.
As any frat boy can tell you, absinthe, the spirit of choice for Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Verlaine, was banned here in 1912 following rumors that its primary ingredient, grand wormwood, contained a psychosis-inducing hallucinogen called thujone — but now a Manhasset distributor Lucid has convinced the U.S. Alcohol-Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau that the green fairy is just as safe as any other liver-pickling, brain-shrinking alcohol on the market (even if the 124-proof booze’s alcohol content is more than 50 percent greater than that of vodka, rum, and most whiskeys).