Last year, while chef Alex Stupak was prepping for the opening of his forthcoming West Village Mexican restaurant Empellon he appeared before not one but two community boards, two of the hardest actually, and won approvals from both. He appeared before Community Board 2 for a license for his current restaurant space at 230 West 4th Street. And he appeared before Community Board 3 to open a fine dining Mexican restaurant in the space that is currently home to vegetarian restaurant Counter. At the time, it seemed he was just hedging his bets in case the West Village fell through. But perhaps not.
When Gothamist asked the good people of Counter why they weren't closed yet, given they announced they would close in February, they said it's because they were just waiting for Stupak to move in. And today the chef confirms to Eater that he hopes to open a new restaurant in the space this winter. He explains:
At Empellon people come for tacos. This is our focus and that's not going to change, but not everything within Mexican cuisine is meant to be wrapped up in a tortilla. We need to build another kitchen that can hold a new set of ideas. I love the direction that I've chosen but I also want to embrace the way I've cooked in the past and hopefully combine the two in a completely relaxed and personal setting. None of this will be a reality until the winter.When asked if this will be a restaurant serving Mexican cuisine but using modern techniques, Stupak replied, "Modern isnt modern anymore. Im not going to pour liquid nitrogen over something for a wow factor but if I can improve texture and appearance of something using what I know then I definitely will."
Counter will close in the next four to six weeks.
· Wasn't Beloved East Village Veggie Spot Counter Supposed to Be Closed By Now? [Gothamist]
· Counter Closing in February [~ENY~]
· All Coverage of Empellon [~ENY~]
[photo credit: Gothamist]