Last night's news that Veselka had been denied a full liquor license and might be pulling out from their new location in the Avalon was depressing to us. But owner Tom Birchard doesn't seem to be too worried. “We’re going to appeal the decision to the full committee in two weeks,” he says. “We’ve been operating for 50 years and have never had a problem — not a noise violation, nothing. If anyone should get a license in this neighborhood, it should be us.”
Momofuku Ko may be ready to open in a couple of weeks, but they’ll have to get by with serving only wine and beer, since David Chang’s rep neglected to bring the necessary petitions to the liquor-license hearing last night. [Eater]
Veselka Bowery was also denied a liquor license by Community Board 3 last night, but unlike Momofuku Ko, it doesn’t seem like they’ll ever be granted one, thanks to Daniel Boulud’s nearby liquored-up establishment. [Eater]
Related: Veselka II Is Coming — Let the Burger War Begin
Don’t be afraid to ask your waiter to put your leftovers in a doggie bag. After all, you did pay for that food. [Diner’s Journal/NYT]
The week’s most exciting celebrity sighting was that of beer-sippin’ McLovin at Diner. No other celebs were busted getting their underage drink on, but there were other surprises: Rachael Ray rolled into the Orchard with a posse bigger than Diddy’s, and Jennifer Garner liked the food at Fiamma so much she slipped into the kitchen to beg Fabio Trabocchi for recipes. We figure that makes up for supposedly getting dissed by Padma Lakshmi a couple weeks ago. (And yes, there a Padma sighting this week, too )
We wished for it, we hoped for it, we reported on its coming, and now it's for serious: A new Veselka is definitely coming to the East Village. The home of the Official Hamburger of Grub Street has just inked the lease for 9 East 1st Street, owner Tom Birchard tells us. Veselka will be in the “second stage” of the Avalon Christie development, less than a block from Daniel Boulud’s new burger restaurant. Birchard doesn't think he'll open for another year, but then be prepared for an epic burger Kulturkampf.
Related:Bowery Burger Battle: Veselka Looks to Open Up Next Door to Daniel
Watch out, Daniel Boulud! Your downtown burger barn is about to get some stiff competition. Veselka, home to our all-time favorite hamburger in the East Village, is in negotiations to lease a 5,100-square-foot space in the very same building as Daniel, but on 1st Street. Owner Tom Birchard tells us, after the obligatory caution that nothing has been signed yet, “Veselka has been working pretty well for 53 years, so it’s going to be pretty much the same, Ukrainian and American comfort food— although maybe with a little tinkering on the menu. We’re thinking of calling it Veselka Bowery, and it will take about a year to build and open.” But what about going head to head with the inventor of the DB burger? Can the lush and lavish Veselka bacon cheeseburger, with its double layer of American cheese and thick, salty-sweet bacon, compete with foie gras and short-rib stuffing? “Bring it on,” Birchard says. We’re already geared up: Happily, in any burger battle, the true victors are always the customers.
Earlier: Veselka 2: Electric Boogaloo
Agyness Deyn — a Manchester, England, native who is the face of Armani and who last month appeared on the cover of Vogue when the magazine named her one of “The World’s Next Top Models” — got tired of crossing the pond for work and, as of a few weeks ago, is now a full-time New Yorker. It has taken some adjustment: “It kind of freaked me out at first how much everyone eats out,” she says. “At home we’d go out for food one night on a weekend. Here I’m eating out every single meal. It’s really bizarre.” To find out just how bizarre, we asked her to recount everything she’s eaten recently.
Veselka, an East Village mainstay since 1954, may soon have a twin: Owner Tom Birchard says he wants to open another full-scale restaurant. (Little Veselka, the Houston Street takeout kiosk, opened last year.) He’s looking at several downtown locations, the Avalon Christie complex on East Houston Street among them — the same building Daniel Boulud is thinking of dropping a new place into. But if Birchard had his druthers, he’d head uptown. “The ideal neighborhood would be the Upper West Side, around Columbia,” he tells us. “But I don’t want to be spending an hour going there and back every day. That would just be the most logical place, in terms of what’s there and who my customers would be.” Wherever he goes, the kasha king is sure of one thing: “I am going to re-create the Veselka we’ve had here for 53 years.” Well, sir, you can certainly try.
Lugging a dining guide around is so last millennium — these days it's about Grub Street on your Treo — but there's a certain usefulness to the Dining Deck, a pack of cards that blurbs 52 different restaurants, as well as providing $10 coupons for each one. This holiday season brings a new Downtown Diner's version, featuring restaurants like the Tasting Room and Veselka (and, d'oh, the now-kaput Blue Mill). There's also a Bar & Lounge deck for East Village pub crawling, which suggests a creative use: Since the box resembles a pack of cigarettes when pocketed, it could make a fine icebreaker: "Actually, I don't smoke — but can I treat you to a Cosmo?" Daniel MaurerPurchase online or visit City Shuffle's booth at the Union Square Holiday Market.
New York Burger Co. has two profitable locations in the city that have won some praise, so naturally, the company's founders are poised to make the leap into megafranchising. We've often wondered at burger joints that are obviously created as franchise pilots; Long Island's American Burger Company didn't even bother giving itself a local name before initiating its nation-conquering mission.
Handsome Dick Manitoba, lead singer of New York proto-punk greats the Dictators, helped launch the CBGB scene in the mid-seventies; Saturday night, when his band plays the club's next-to-last show, he'll be marking the end of an era. Unlike many of their punk-rock peers, who were more into drugs than food, the Dictators were "gourmandizers" (according to CB's founder Hilly Kristal, at least). Handsome Dick Manitoba shared some memories of the punk-era East Village eats scene (and outer-borough fast-food scene), plus where he chows now that he's got a "lot of money."