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Waiting for Merkato: Samuelsson's Grand African Still Unopened

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Merkato 55, circa 1/17/08.

Initial projections had Merkato 55, Marcus Samuelsson's gargantuan North African restaurant, opening in last September; then it was December/January, then last week. And now, various reports indicate that it'll be open in early February. Someone we spoke to who has been inside says it's ready to roll—paint dried, murals complete, wood work installed, sidewalk lighting hung. So, then, what's the hold up?

Officials for the restaurant cite the usual eleventh hour delays. But for a moment, let's ponder: is it something more? One theory is that chef Marcus Samuelsson and company are waiting until after Fashion Week, which starts at the end of next week, so that they can use Fashion Week private parties to hone their skills and generate buzz. Another, more alarming, possibility for the delay is that they don't have a liquor license yet. The SLA lists their application as pending, a status that, indeed, you do hate to see. And, officially, per press rep Sarah Abell, "they have a temporary liquor license in hand that expires in February, and from all indications, the final license is forthcoming." Find something good to read, people. We could be here for a while.
· Plywood Report Special: Inside Samuelsson's Merkato [~E~]
· Public Query: Merkato 55 [SLA]

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