When Ken Friedman meets with East Village residents this evening about his plan to take over San Loco’s former home on Avenue A, he won’t have to walk far from his apartment.
Friedman — who also owns The Spotted Pig, The Breslin, The John Dory, and Salvation Taco — is an East Village resident and he and his chef-partner April Bloomfield have long been trying to open a place in what he says is his favorite neighborhood (“it’s younger and not as stuck up as the West Village,” he says). “I’ve been obsessed with the East Village and specifically Tompkins Square Park for years,” he told us today.
“We’ve come close with all kinds of spaces,” he said, mentioning the corners that belonged to 7A (which Josh Picard took over instead) and Picnic.
He’s hoping 151 Avenue A will be the one. “When this San Loco situation came up — and it’s got a 4am liquor license — I thought this is perfect: we can experiment with all the ideas we’ve been thinking about in the East Village, starting with homemade pastries in the morning and great coffee, and April’s always wanted to open a sandwich shop. And we’ve always wanted to do a great wine bar, so we thought let’s do them all!”
Whether or not Friedman takes the space depends on how his plan is received, he said. But he doesn’t expect trouble from his fellow Villagers: “They should be really happy that world-class restaurateurs are coming to their neighborhood,” he said, noting that Bloomfield is up for a James Beard Award on Monday. “Are there really people that don’t want April Bloomfield coming into their neighborhood? If so, fuck em!”
To those prepared to argue that the arrival of this as-yet unnamed cafe/sandwich shop/wine bar represents the upscaling of the neighborhood, Friedman says “we’re not doing expensive food or upscale cocktails,” and says he likes Avenue A as is: “Why we want to be there is because of the way it is now, so I don’t want it to change much.”
As for the sample menu that’s been submitted to the community board, Friedman says that like any of Bloomfield’s menus it’s subject to change, and may include the Cubano she serves at the Pig.