Last week Todd Barry told us he was a Chipotle man and we noted that a couple of respected chefs were too — but it seems Ethan Hawke, for one, prefers naked burritos to burrito bols, if a recent sighting at Qdoba Mexican Grill is any indicator. Are notable New Yorkers embracing casual dining chains? Lizzie Grubman did take her client Tailor Made to, um, the Olive Garden…
Shortly after AM New York reported that the price of the Recession Special is on the rise, the Times' City Room points out that Gray’s Papaya top dog Nicholas Gray, who previously endorsed Michael Bloomberg for president, may have jinxed Obama by erecting a sign at his 72nd Street store that reads “YES SENATOR OBAMA ‘WE ARE READY TO BELIEVE AGAIN.’” Maybe Mr. Gray should put his money where his mouth is and allow customers to donate the increased cost of the Recession Special to Obama ’08?
Two Hot Dogs, a Drink, and a Nod to Obama [City Room/NYT]
Rising Prices Hit City Pockets Hard [amNY]
With all the exciting new restaurants opening in town, you’d never know there’s talk of a recession. But Frank Bruni figures anything opening now was planned a few years ago in better economic times, which makes us worry about restaurant openings in 2010. [NYT]
Death & Co. can continue to operate until mid-April, but don’t expect owner David Kaplan to produce any more nightlife destinations after that: “I’ll never open another bar, another restaurant, a deli, a fucking bodega — I’ll never open up anything ever again in New York.” [NYO]
The current cocktail craze has led to a lot of handmade – and therefore illegal – ingredients being mixed into drinks. Marijuana-infused gin, anyone? [NYP]
Just a reminder — today is Election Day! It may not matter to you, but it matters a lot to the 125 residents in the Adirondack hamlet of Raquette Lake who want to get clean water in their taps, so don't forget your civic duty! These folks at Gray's Papaya in the West Village want you to be thinking about politics today.
What's that you say? This picture has nothing to do with today's ballot? Oh, right. Did you vote yet? No? Talk to us when you can prove you really care about our government.
Clinton Hill: Il Torchio may have only opened in August and be prone to underseasoning and overbearing Italian accents, but the restaurant is already gearing up to expand. [Eat for Victory/VV]
East Village: Savoy chef Peter Hoffman’s new restaurant Back Forty has a soft opening today and will officially begin service on Wednesday. [Grub Street]
Greenwich Village: The 70-year-old founder of Gray’s Papaya who posted the “Bloomberg for President” sign on 8th Street “has never been shy about using his store windows for political expression; Jimmy Carter, in 1976, and Bill Bradley, in 1999, both earned his presidential endorsement. And in 1998, when Bill Clinton was facing impeachment, Mr. Gray displayed a sign that read, ‘Hang in there, Mr. President.’” [NYT]
Midtown: Beacon has added a "kitchen counter" which functions as a chef's table, a burger bar, and the site of a weekly tasting menu. [Strong Buzz] A midtown pizza-truck war has broken out. [Midtown Lunch]
West Village: BarFry kicks off lunch service today. [Grub Street]
Astoria: Coffee and desserts are available at Tell Astorya Cafe on 28th Avenue during events including Friday’s Independent Film nights and afternoon jazz on Saturday. [Joey in Astoria]
Clinton Hill: Former Top Chefer Josie Smith-Malave has named her restaurant on Waverly and Greene Speakeasy. [Clinton Hill Blog]
East Village: The food-feature documentary King Corn opens today at Cinema Village. [Cakehead]
Flatiron: Centro Vinoteca’s Anne Burrell, Heather Carlucci-Rodriguez of Lassi, and Dos Caminos chef Ivy Stark will be cooking for next Thursday’s benefit for Women Chefs & Restaurateurs at the Prince George Ballroom. [Gothamist]
Greenwich Village: Gray’s Papaya on 8th Street has endorsed Bloomberg for president because “he talks the talk, and he’ll walk the walk.” [Blog Chelsea]
Nolita: Frank Bruni is actually at a loss for words to describe a favorite dish that Frank DeCarlo serves at Peasant: “the suckling pig liver will fascinate you because it tastes so very much like other liver you’ve had and yet … and yet … different, but in ways that are tough to pinpoint.” [Diner’s Journal/NYT]
When Connecticut native and Tony Award–winning singer-actress Anika Noni Rose — best known for playing Lorrell in Dreamgirls — visited New York as a child, her parents took her to restaurants like the Russian Tea Room and Sign of the Dove. “I had quail there for the first time,” she recalls of the latter, “and they had a bread pudding that was out of control.” Her education in food wasn’t lost on her— even this week as she rehearsed for a benefit at Carnegie Hall and put the finishing touches on her work in the upcoming miniseries The Starter Wife, the Inwood resident made time for phenomenal comfort food, ferocious lemon-meringue pie, and a certain doughy treat that she insists is “the best thing in the world.”
Alexander Poulus was working as an engineer five years after graduating from NYU, but when his uncle Gus, the founder of Papaya King, offered to bring him into the company, he couldn't refuse. For 35 years, he has seen the Upper East Side location (which is about to celebrate its 75th anniversary) through stolen tip jars, windows shattered by brawling drunks, and of course the snappy service of countless hot dogs that are “Tastier Than Filet Mignon.”
The recent price hike at Gray’s isn't the only change afoot in the papaya world: Gray’s predecessor Papaya King, which recently opened locations in La Guardia and JFK, is poised to open two more stands the first next month in Clifton, New Jersey, in the Corrado's shopping center, and another one in the middle of the year near the Sears store at Fordham Road and Webster Avenue in the Bronx. President and CEO Dan Horan says he thinks the city can absorb 35 to 40 Papaya Kings and has already earmarked fifteen potential locations. Not only that, he’s opening another stand in Baltimore's BWI airport in early 2007 and looking at opportunities as far west as Los Angeles. So why are there currently just three Manhattan locations? Apparently, rising rents and competition from banks eyeing the same 500-square-foot corner spaces are to blame. We’d much rather blow $1.79 on a Papaya dog (handmade from bull's beef, unlike those of his competitors, Horan points out) than on unsavory ATM fees. Daniel MaurerEarlier:Bummer Indeed: Gray's Papaya Finally Raises Prices
When Gray's Papaya announced in September that the price of its Al Franken–endorsed frank was to go up from 95 cents, founder Nicholas A. B. Gray was keeping mum about the math. We visited the Sixth Avenue location this weekend and can now report that as of the beginning of the month, the price is $1.25. This exceeds even the 25-cent jump (from 50 cents to 75 cents) of 1999. Still more devastating, the Recession Special — two dogs and a small drink — has gone from $2.75 to $3.50. Not that we would forsake Gray's for an inferior imitator, but when we called every other listed Papaya stand in the city, we made an all-too-sobering discovery: These days you'll have to go out to Queens to get a 95-cent frank. Here's how much fourteen different dogs will set you back.
Mark Ronson, the A-list set's most in-demand D.J. — he's spun parties like the Met gala and is a favorite of everyone from Tommy Hilfiger to Jay-Z — isn't one for home cooking. "The only thing I really waste expendable income on is food. When I go to my accountant, he's like, 'Do you have to eat out all the time?' He's half happy I don't have a heroin addiction instead." We asked him how he allotted his dining dollars during the past week.