“Before opening a new restaurant you need a bottle of aspirin and your wife’s permission, which can take a few weeks and is sometimes harder to secure than a loan,” Shane Covey said to laughs. Covey was seated at Edwin and Neal’s, a seafood restaurant he’s opening on East 6th Street, just a shell’s throw away from his First Avenue oyster bar, Upstate.
Covey was wearing a baseball cap, a three-day old beard, and bags under his eyes. Seated next to him with a smile across his round face was co-owner Adam Elzer, a founder of Empellon Taqueria and Empellon Cocina and a partner at Sauce. Glassware for beer, liquor, wine, and cocktails crowded the wood-slab bar. About a dozen staff members dressed in black shirts and jeans milled about organizing supplies and place settings while Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” played over the speakers. Edison-style light bulbs emitted a warm glow that made the cold rain outside seem even colder.
Elzer, who grew up in New Jersey, started frequenting Upstate five years ago. “What drew me in was ‘oyster bar.’ Seafood is my favorite thing to eat and to cook,” he said. It wasn’t long before he befriended Covey and they started batting around ideas for a seafood restaurant. Just four months after 25-year-old Gandhi Indian Restaurant closed its doors due to a rent hike, he and Elzer are ready to put their ideas into practice at 345 6th Street.
Edwin and Neal’s will be similar to Upstate “in theory,” said Covey, in that it will be another neighborhood fish joint with locally sourced ingredients, but it will be more casual and twice as large (about 55 seats). Whereas Upstate’s selling point is a wide selection of oysters, Edwin and Neal’s will offer more variety, including crab, lobster, shrimp, a limited selection of oysters, and an expanded alcohol selection.
Make no mistake, Edwin and Neal’s will be a sister restaurant to Upstate, which is just around the corner. “We’ll be using a lot of the same staff, the same vendors, same concepts, and the lead chef here, Kary Goolsby, opened Upstate with me,” Covey said.
Covey lives nearby, on 9th Street, in “one of the last neighborhoods in New York,” he said. “The whole reason I wanted to call my first restaurant Upstate is to capture the small-town feel in a big town. I’m there all the time and I’m trying to make this little corner like my hometown, New Hartford, where everyone knows each other.”
Elzer is excited to replicate Upstate’s winning formula for customers of Edwin & Neal’s: “We want it to be a comfortable environment where they know they can come in and have a nice plate of food, feel at home, know some of the people that work here, and leave feeling better than when they walked in.”
Edwin & Neal’s. 345 East 6th Street, nr. First Ave, East Village. Opens December 1. Hours: Monday-Sunday 5pm-11pm. 212-477-0617. firstname.lastname@example.org