If you were a fan of longtime watering hole Barramundi and its upstairs speakeasy, 2nd Floor on Clinton, we’re afraid you missed last call. The pair of bars had their final hurrah last night, but the good news is the space won’t stay vacant for long if all goes as planned for Tim Gashi (Rocky Slims). The restauranteur plans to open a Criff Dog style hamburger joint/speakeasy combo that he’s hoping will help revitalize the LES block.
Along with his business partner, Valentino Gjekaj (Arté), Gashi plans to serve high-end burgers and shakes on the ground floor while upstairs painstakingly crafted cocktails will be mixed in the Gatsby-style speakeasy. Under the consult of mixologist Lucinda Sterling (Middlebranch), the upscale bar hopes to perfect the classics and will offer Sterling’s spins on some of the rustier standbys.
Food has always been a family affair for Gashi, who says as a child he was always “running around dining rooms.” Most recently he partnered with his sister to open Mama Ghanoush, going on to open Rocky Slims. Over the years his father, Saciro Gashi, has opened 18 restaurants throughout New York City, all of them Italian, Prespa being one of the most critically acclaimed.
Gashi grew up in Gramercy and has fond memories of hanging out in LES bars in his younger days. “It’s a little area of New York that still remains somewhat what it was,” he said. He and his partner have yet to settle on a name for the restaurant, but Gashi has decided to call the speakeasy Garfunkel’s, a nod to 67 Clinton Street’s former life as Garfunkel & Tauster, a bank that went under in the 1920s.
While Garfunkel ended up in prison for fraud, his partner Tauster went the fugitive route before getting busted, then locked up at Sing Sing. The firm’s name is still engraved at the top of the old building. Look for both the second floor bar and the restaurant to open their doors sometime in October.