Serge Becker’s rep isn’t saying anything more than what we’ve already heard about his new restaurant in the former Eastanah space, but she confirms that his partners are Oliver Stumm and Dominique Clausen of A Touch of Class.
A year ago, Keith McNally claimed Morandi would be his last restaurant, but he revealed at last night's Community Board 2 meeting that Minetta Tavern will join his repertoire. McNally plans to keep the name and setup, but change the menu from Italian to French, in the vein of Balthazar. When community residents asked what sort of crowd McNally's name may draw, he retorted, "They won't be French," and explained that his restaurants are "not the type of places where people spill out of white limos." So he's not expecting this to be the next Waverly Inn? "I'm lucky if I open the doors and people come," McNally said. The board approved McNally's bid.
La Esquina showed how it's done when it pleaded for a liquor license for its sidewalk café. A large group of supporters attested that owners Derek Sanders and Serge Becker are "altruistic and very caring." Said one resident: "I would personally be bothered if I couldn't sit down and have a beer." Word! And application approved. —Lucy Tang
Ah, the tangled web of nightlife ownership. A while back, Serge Becker, part-owner of The Box and La Esquina, told us in a statement that Cordell Lochin, the young scenester who presented himself as a partner in Becker’s restaurants before being convicted of drug-conspiracy charges, was merely an “indispensable advisor.” A December 15 memo from a government attorney calls that assertion into question, pointing at an undated letter from Becker that describes Lochin as “more than just a business partner.” That letter pleads for leniency because his company is “in the design stage of our second location of ‘La Esquina’ in Miami Beach at ‘the Gale’ hotel.” Exciting news, innit?
Not long ago, the owner of newcomer Pinche taqueria accused La Esquina of having less-than-authentic tacos. We were interested to hear the thoughts of Helena Elko, a server at La Esquina since its buzzy opening about two years ago (“It’s the only place where we can sell you a bottle of $700 tequila and then we’ll dance in front of you and tell jokes”). But Pinche’s got nothing on La Esquina, according to Elko. “Of course you’re going to start a war to get attention if you talk shit on La Esquina,” she says, “because everybody goes there.” And just why does everyone go there? We asked the waitress.
Guest of a Guest broke the story yesterday that Cordell Lochin thought be a partner in Serge Becker’s joints La Esquina, 205, and the Box will be sentenced on October 10 for importing more than 100 kilos of weed and dealing it in New York in 2004 and 2005. There’s been speculation that the August 24 raid of the Box and La Esquina was related to this, and we’ve heard rumors that Cordell was recently arrested again but the Box’s publicist, Nadine Johnson, tells us neither of these things are correct (a check with NYPD turned up no recent arrests). She also describes Cordell as a consultant and not a partner in the Box, as reported in a recent Observer profile and other places: “We had taken the decision to call him a partner, but he isn’t a real partner or employee for the Box or La Esquina.” Serge Becker did not know about Cordell’s past until ten days ago, when his case went to trial, Johnson says. She also issued an emphatic statement to Grub Street on behalf of Becker further disavowing Cordell’s ownership stake.
La Esquina’s basement and the Box are open again, but Serge Becker’s woes may not be over. Alberto Armendarig, a reporter for Mexican newspaper La Reforma tells us that last Saturday at 205 (another joint Becker has his stamp on), he was choked by a bouncer and bodily ejected from the club in such a way that he tried to press assault charges (cops didn’t find any marks on him and told him to brush it off and call it a night). Sounds like any other Saturday to us, but Armendarig says he’s now on a quest to close the club down. As it turns out, he may not have to lift a finger.
205 to be Eighty-Sixed?