So… what is happening with The Keys? (If you have no idea what that even means, I am currently documenting the opening of The Keys Restaurant in NYC by Chef Bill Seleno. Please see Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3, and Part 4 to learn more about the concept and menu.)
Everything was humming along back in June. A few delays had caused a few investors to back out, but a few others had come along. Bill got a big “yes!” from Crown Consulting and Design, the firm that is going to contribute by taking care of the build out. Bill didn’t know how much their contribution would be and was hoping he wouldn’t have to trim his 1920’s concept back too much. He was thrilled when they agreed to cover all build out expenses, without cutting any corners, for 10% interest in the restaurant.
But the hold up is still the owner. Turns out, the owner had to resolve a lot of financial issues before he could sell the space. He dragged his feet for so long that Bill asked his broker to look for another space. He happened to know someone who just came into a space, so they went to check it out. Bill told me that the space didn’t have some of the perks of the 1st place (which had 3 floors, a downstairs club area, and an outdoor space) but it did have an impressive kitchen. But the space is really beaten up and has been vacant for weeks. They also only have a liquor license until midnight. Bill was set to negotiate for this space, and was hoping to receive a copy of the lease and the details about the space 2 weeks ago. But, in what seems to be a trend, feet were dragged.
Bill met up with an old friend from his Gustovino’s days, Heather. Turns out, Heather had been trying to open up her own restaurant for quite some time, but luck was not on her side. When Bill told her about his vision, she jumped on board. She walked through both spaces with Bill, and said that the 1st place was really the winner. Heather really wants to get things done quickly, and signed on as a partner. She brings to the table her craft behind the bar and she is excited to use some of Bill’s chemistry vision in the drinks. Turns out the delays brought about an opportunity for a fortuitous partnership.
As for the menu, Chef Bill may have to modify the menu to run his seasonal, local menu and will be utilizing the brick oven even more to maximize the resources he has at his disposal. He plans to bake all the breads in house, including a table bread of sour dough dinner rolls with pearls of olive oil, gorgonzola cremificato, and olives. He’s exploring adding a selection of meats and pizzas as well.
So how is Chef Bill staying afloat with all these delays? He has been all over the country catering various friend’s weddings and their kid’s Bar Mitzvahs. He will be working for a Kosher catering company throughout September. Heather will be his right-hand woman to take meetings and act on Bill’s behalf while Bill is out of town.
The opening is now probably more likely to happen in February. I’m amazed to see how much a restaurant opening can be delayed. Everything was on target for a July opening back when we started this project, and now he’s looking at nearly 9 months after that, and that’s only if the space can be secured in the very near future!
Thankfully, the owner of the 1st spot is currently being a bit more forthcoming, so Bill hopes he can secure the last of the information next week.
And then it’s full steam ahead!