This week, Chicago heavy-hitter Brendan Sodikoff released the name and logo of a new restaurant he's planning in the West Village. It's called Prime Rib. The team has not revealed any other info about this project yet. The liquor license application and website note an address at 4 Charles Street, which has been the home to Spanish charmer El Charro Espanol for the last six decades. Nobody's picking up the phone at the restaurant right now, but Robert Sietsema decided to swing by. Here's his report:
Went by El Charro -- the ancient Mexican restaurant that turned into one of the city's premier old-fashioned Spanish restaurants in 1959 -- and found everything pretty much the same, except the El Charro menu has finally been removed from the frame by the door. Inside, I could see that the furniture had all been pushed to one side, and big black plastic bags of construction debris sat in the middle of the floor. The beautiful Spanish tiles were still intact along the bar and the other decorative fixtures were still in place.
I knocked on the door and it was answered by an affable guy named Patrick with a baseball cap,and he said, "The guy who owned the place finally retired, and we're going to do something different with the space."
"What do you have in mind?" I asked.
"Well, we're not sure yet," then refused my request to come in and take a look around. Really, he looked like he was just fooling around in there.
Sietsema included El Charro Espanol on his list of 10 old-fashioned Spanish restaurants to try in New York City. And Brooks of Sheffield enjoyed his Who Goes There? visit to El Charro in 2013. Brooks wrote: "It's what pops into your mind when you picture the typical, side-street Greenwich Village eatery of old: cozy, slightly hidden, tradition-bound, attentive to its regulars, and offering the diner not a raucous jolt of energy but a relaxing respite from the world." News of El Charro's demise comes just a week after 14th Street old-timer La Nacional closed. So, this has been a brutal month for old Spanish restaurants. Stay tuned for more details on the Sodikoff take-over as they become available.