Niko, the Soho Japanese joint from Coby Levy (last of Charles), sushi pro Hiro Sawatari and La Fonda Del Sol's Josh DeChellis is done with its friends and family previews and is now slated to open to the public next Monday. Today Levy tells Grub Street that the dining room will feel like "a Soho restaurant with Japanese references," so no bamboo-heavy interiors, or over the top ninja flourishes. The project also got the blessing of unofficial neighborhood king John McDonald — a must for any big opening in Soho these days.
More interesting, however, are Levy's thoughts on why his last restaurant, Charles, failed. He admits that the exclusivity was taken to a preposterous extreme and that "At the end of the day, it was expensive, the food was subpar, there was bad service and a whole lot of attitude. Not really a recipe for success." When we chatted him up last week, he told us it reminded him of the snooty restaurant in the Tina Fey movie Date Night. (For those who haven't seen the film, the host answers the phone by saying, "Claw, you're welcome.")
In terms of buzz factor, Levy hopes that Niko will be like Locanda Verde, which is hard to get into, but only because so many people want to eat there. He tells us if the crowd is fashionable, then it's fashionable, but he's seeking out a more food-focused demographic this time around and has turned down numerous requests from fashion mags for coverage.
· Cobi Levy on Why Charles Didn’t Work, and Why Niko Hopefully Will [GS]
· All Niko Coverage on Eater [~ENY~]
· All Cobi Levy Coverage on Eater [~ENY~]