It has been an unbelievably long road to open The Keys. (For a full recap of the story so far, you can start from the first post of “A Restaurant is Born”) The original open date was aimed for Summer 2012, and here we are at the end of the year, without a place to enjoy Chef Bill’s awesome food.
The owners were really the hold up here. Paperwork just would not move along since there were so many cooks in the kitchen (pun intended) on the owner’s side. They went through 3 different lawyers, and each new lawyer wanted his own new deal. Once word came that they could move forward, it still took a full 5 weeks to get the contract together. They had to figure out the exact terms to keep the owners on as partners (at 25%) so they still were invested in the restaurant to everyone’s satisfaction. Finally, the contract was signed this past week! It required 6 owners and partners to sign, from all over the world.
The design firm that was going to invest is no longer going to be used, because 10% is a big chunk to give away. There is a new architect involved now named Shay who works for Perkins Eastman. He is busy getting measurements and putting the plans together so they can start construction the moment the lease is signed. They hope this will be just a week or two away so they can be in there by mid-December. This will allow the Concession (you can read more about what a Concession from this previous post) to extend to March, giving the restaurant time to get on its feet.
There is a $150K budget for the full build out and equipment. The brick oven is a key piece of the restaurant, but repairing it will cost about $8K, so it has got to be worth it! Bill is busy figuring out some awesome dishes that can come out of it, including suckling pig, plank seafood, and, of course, the homemade bread. (Bill is posting about some ideas on The Keys’ Facebook page. Go on over and become a fan!) Bill is also excited about putting in smokers, so he can make his own bacon and the bar can make smoked ice for cocktails. The outside patio will get a new fortified roof so he can have an herb and chili garden on top. He also plans to put a macro grower in the kitchen so he can grow some super sized greens. The in-season menu is back in play. Shay is already taking measurements and making sketches and I’ll be posting more about this in the next few weeks when things start getting really exciting and we see how the physical restaurant changes.
Bill is ambitious and hopes to have a Friends & Family opening by the last week of January. He will start with dinner, then add lunch a month later, and brunch when the weather warms up. There will be Jazz music downstairs, which will start up right at opening, and Bill plans to have some house instruments so that Jazz musicians will look at The Keys as a place to just stop by and jam from 11-4am. There will also be a DJ on the weekends with molecular bottle service downstairs. This is not going to be a club scene, however, and more for people who will be excited that the cocktails include homemade bitters.
I am excited to say that it is finally time to announce where the restaurant will be! The Keys will be bringing great food and music to Mulberry Street, between Prince and Spring Streets, in the space currently occupied by the Australian restaurant, 8 Mile Creek.
Stay tuned in the next few weeks as the construction starts and the menu takes form!