According to legal papers filed last week, meatpacking district restaurant-lounge Buddha Bar hasn’t exactly been following the Noble Eightfold Path when it comes to its pay policies. A server, bartender, busboy, and six other employees have filed a class-action lawsuit accusing owner David Kay, CEO Nina Zajic, and GM Peter Jastimi of numerous stingy practices: withholding portions of their tips, redistributing tips to employees who weren’t entitled to them, failing to pay minimum wage, withholding a portion of “service charges” that diners assumed were paid to waiters, and forcing employees to pay for walkouts, uniforms, and credit-card fees. By the looks of these papers, it looks like the restaurant’s giant Buddha is the only thing sitting pretty.
Reyes, Goins, and Peralta v. Buddha Bar
Downtown Brooklyn: So much for a Valentine’s Day debut: Amy Ruth’s at the Fulton Mall isn’t even open yet. [Lost City]
Hamptons: Restaurant Week begins March 20. Bargain meals at close to 70 participating restaurants seems like a good excuse to take advantage of any lodging bargains before warm weather sets in. [Restaurant Girl]
Meatpacking District:Florent plans to give up the ghost on a high note, on Gay Pride Day at the end of June. [NYP]
Midtown East: Citysearch calls Ducasse’s food at Adour "comme ci, comme ça." [Bottomless Dish/Citysearch]
West Village:The Beatrice team might expand to L.A. [Down by the Hipster]
Lost in the shuffle of this year's high-profile openings has been a major lingering question: What ever happened to Scott Conant? One of the city's top Italian chefs, Conant last year gave up both of his restaurants, L'Impero and Alto, to pursue a mystery project. (Michael White took over both places, to great acclaim.) Conant monkeyed around in the Hamptons, consulting for a friend, but only now is his next real project in view.
The Times may have jumped the gun in pronouncing the New York Wine & Food Festival a done deal in the meatpacking district. Caryl Chinn, of event organizer Karlitz & Co., tells us that, Lee Schraeger’s statement in the Times notwithstanding, the festival has not gotten permission to close down Ninth Avenue, nor has it tried to: “It never was our intention to close down Ninth Avenue.” There’s still a good chance that the event will take place in the meatpacking district, but ideally along four contiguous blocks, much like at South Beach. “We’re also looking at different parks,” says Chinn. So there is a festival, and it is on Columbus Day weekend. But where should it be? Make your suggestions in the comments.
Calling All Rock Stars in Aprons [NYT]
Related: Meyer, McNally, Nieporent Respond to New NYC Food FestivalAll South Beach Wine & Food Festival coverage
The Times reported last week that New York will get its own Lee Schrager food festival this fall (as we predicted last year), but does the city’s food community really want one? We rang up a few people who we’d expect to be involved with such an event and got a mixed reaction.
Cupid must have aimed his arrow directly at Barneys' publicity-loving rear — and we're shamelessly hot for it, which is why, hot on the heels of our warehouse-sale live blog, we're writing about the damn place again. Racked reports the chain is opening a store in the scary retail megaplex that is the meatpacking district.
Merkato 55 is only a few hours from opening, and it has been covered from nearly every angle except the most interesting one: What will the “Pan-African” food we’ve been hearing about actually look like? These first images of some of what will be Merkato’s signature dishes represent chef Marcus Samuelsson’s vision, as executed by chef Andrea Bergquist. So what should we get, we asked Bergquist? Her answer was direct: “Start off with the kodogo bar. It’s something special that you’re not going to find anywhere else in New York: 25 different small bites from the continent of Africa. It’ll be like a trip around Africa — or, at least, we hope so.” We hope so, too.
We’ve learned from nightlife broker Alex Picken that Pizza Bar has been bought out by its landlord and is likely to be repurposed for dry use. “Meatpacking rents have gone up,” says Picken. “You’ve got guys paying peanuts, and you’ve got fashion stores paying the cheese.” (Landlords are asking as high as $300 a square foot, we hear.) Picken has also heard that the space that recently housed Gin Lane is acquiring a new lease holder who will turn it into more of a restaurant. Picken, a meatpacking expert of sorts, is unfamiliar with the operators, so we probably aren’t talking about Kyky and Unik, who were recently bought out of PM and are experiencing delays with Merkato 55. More meatpacking movement: UrbanDaddy has the scoop on a new French restaurant operated by the owners of new club Kiss & Fly. It’s called Bagatelle — that’s a French word, not a portmanteau meaning “douche-bag clientele.”
Related:In the Bag [UrbanDaddy]
Meatpacking Rent Party: Lotus and Pizza Bar for SaleBreaking: Avalon Closed 'For Reservations,' Other Clubs Bite the Bullet
East Village: TKettle owner Andy Pan is still waiting for his partner BBQ Chicken to open, but “it’s killing me softly,” he says.
[Eat for Victory/VV]
Little Italy: Send a mixed signal to your love this Valentine’s Day with a candy ring from Papabubble. [TONY]
Lower East Side: Tomorrow night at Suba is a pata negra feast, which includes dishes made with “Ossabaw Island hogs, the ‘long lost cousin of the Pata Negra’” paired with Spanish wines. [Bottomless Dish/Citysearch]
Midtown East: Initial reactions to Adour are already mostly positive, but no one else has noticed the specially reserved handbag seating, yet. [Eater]
Rockefeller Center: On Friday from 3:30 to 6 p.m., Morrell is hosting a tasting of La Caravelle Grand Cru to celebrate the Champagne’s ten-year anniversary. [Snack]
Florent Morellet shares good news with the Observer: He’s in fine shape, contrary to rumors we’ve heard that he’s quitting his meatpacking institution owing to poor health. The bad news? His lease is up on March 31, and his landlord is shopping the space for $70,000 a month — something he calls “a lot of boudin noir.” A court decision will apparently determine how long he gets to stay, but he hopes to celebrate another gay-pride event — so it seems like he has plans to stick around till at least June.
Florent Morellet: Rents Too Ritzy for Shabby Block [NYO]
Earlier:Meatpacking Mainstay Florent May Close in May
Yesterday Eater broke news that Florent’s landlord has been showing the building to potential tenants (Eater originally misidentified the landlord, so take that rumor for what it’s worth). Florent’s future has been tenuous for some time now — a June 2007 Daily News item mentions owner Florent Morellet trying to renegotiate his lease while neighbors closed shop. We’re hearing from one source that Florent’s lease is up in May, after which Florent will close. Another source says that Morellet planned to sell the business because his health is worsening (his T-cell count is displayed on one of the menu boards). So was it the Florent space that Anthony Martignetti was referring to when he told us he was considering opening a restaurant near Pastis? Who knows, it may also have been the old Rhone space, abandoned by Double Seven. Morellet wasn’t available for comment today, but we’ll keep you posted on what may be a double blow (remember, Passerby will soon close) to the meatpacking district.
Update: Asked whether Anthony Martignetti is considering the Florent space, a rep tells us she has no new information at this time. Note: She didn't say, “No.”
Related:SHOCK CLAIM: Florent Restaurant to Close This Year? [Eater]
Paris Shaped by the Pen [NYDN]
Earlier: Anthony Martignetti Plots a New Restaurant Over Croissants at PastisPasserby Hasn’t Quite Passed On
Meatpacking District: With the wave of recent restaurant and nightlife closings, this area seems doomed, but Los Dados and long-delayed Merkato 55 might be able to salvage the hip destination, at least "on its western perimeter." [Zagat]
Midtown East: Midtown Lunch finagled a sneak peak of Sakae Sushi’s conveyor belt and loses his cool: "If you’ve been to an outlet overseas, you may end up disappointed by the first US location which lacks some of the uniqueness or ‘cool’ factor of the locations in Asia. That’s because they felt a more subdued location would be more appealing to the clientele of Midtown.… Even when we get something cool, we get screwed." [Midtown Lunch]
Park Slope: Lebanese Laila has closed, which doesn’t seem like a surprise since it was across the street from "the better, cheaper Olive Vine." [TONY]
South Slope: The Fourth Avenue soup man has officially given up his spot in preparation for a new fancy condo. [Eat for Victory/VV]
Upper West Side: China Fun is getting in on the New Year shill fest: Submit 500 words (or fewer) on why you want to celebrate the Year of the Rat at China Fun (firstname.lastname@example.org), and you could win a banquet for eight.
West Village: After losing its lease, Italian sandwich destination Crosby Connection is moving from its hole-in-the-wall to an actual restaurant space a couple of blocks away. [The Gluttoness]
Astoria: This blogger doesn't know which new arrival to the neighborhood is worse: the Broadway chorus-boy gays or the Applebee's. [Manhattan Offender]
Bay Ridge: They're gonna move the ugly-ass Gowanus Expressway onto a sleek cable suspension roadway and fill in the old area with emerald parkland! Well, wouldn't it be pretty to think so. [NYDNCobble Hill: A developer wants to build townhouses on the empty land surrounding the pretty old Lamm Building on Amity Street, but locals object because the new houses wouldn't face the street and leave room for backyards like all the other houses. Tense. [Brownstoner]
So why is Jeffrey Chodorow’s new Lincoln Center meatery to be called Center Cut? Because it will be devoted to the center cuts of meat! There will be center-cut steaks, center-cut pork chops, center-cut venison, and so forth, says the chef's rep Karine Bakhoum. We are flabbergasted. Such a proposition sounds insanely expensive and is also silly, since the first two ribs off the shoulder (ribs 1 and 2 in the trade) are by far the best ones, with the biggest portion of the spinalis dorsi muscle, also known as the “lip” or “deckle.”
East Village: Do a piercing salon, tattoo parlor, and bong shop qualify as the "community facilities" a developer said he'd rent to in return for being allowed to build bigger than code here on St. Marks? Discuss. [Neither More Nor Less]
Elmhurst: A skater boy rescued a newborn baby, umbilical cord intact, from a freezing Dumpster. Troubled young moms, New York law says it's okay to abandon babies … as long as you leave them somewhere safe and warm where they can be found! [Newsday]
Flatbush: Locals here called in more noise complaints in the second half of 2007 than in any other Brooklyn hood. So does that make Flatbush the borough's noisiest hood or just full of its noisiest kvetchers? [Ditmas Park Blog via NYDN]
Manhattan Moms, an East Coast equivalent of Bravo's The Real Housewives of Orange County, will premiere early next year. A lot of the city's foremost graffiti artists congregated for a book party at Auto in the meatpacking district. Billy Joel is in talks with the Mets to perform a bunch of gigs at Shea Stadium. George Steinbrenner will have a high school named after him in Tampa. Padma Lakshmi was rude to the staff at Soho eatery Fiamma, but Martha Stewart overtipped and was nice. CNN gave out an award to someone for forcing "one of the world's largest oil corporations to pay more than $6 billion to clean up toxic waste in the Amazon rain forest," but didn't name Chevron as the company because they are an advertiser.
Astoria: New Mexican restaurant Luna de Juarez at 25-98 Steinway is ready to be sampled. [Joey in Astoria]
Bronx: Coca-Cola’s added a handful of hybrid-electric trucks to its 90-vehicle delivery fleet based in the South Bronx. [NYP]
Cobble Hill: Sahadi’s has put up a new sign, possibly in preparation for the onslaught of Trader Joe’s. [Lost City]
East Village: A sushi bar called Nori will refill the Hip-Hop-Chow space on Second Avenue in hopes that this more banal concept will survive in the space for more than a few months. [Eater]
Meatpacking District: Paparazzi aren’t the only ones not allowed to photograph the hallowed spaces of Socialista; civilians were hampered from shooting as well. [Down by the Hipster]
Rockefeller Center: An eggplant sandwich “invented by three teenagers from New York City who spent a summer learning about the food business as part of a program connected to the Fresh Air Fund” (which will also snag some of the proceeds) has been added to the menu of ’wichcraft’s newest location at 1 Rockefeller Plaza near 50th Street and will be available at ten other locations by next week. [Diner’s Journal/NYT]
We’re used to seeing misleading pull quotes on movie posters and book jackets, but takeout menus? Los Dados has plastered the paper menus of its recently opened taqueria with quotes from Thrillist, UrbanDaddy, DailyCandy, Andrea Strong, and others not exactly known for applying a critical eye. Front and center is a line from a Daily News piece: “TACO NIGHT IS NOW EVEN BETTER.” Riiight.