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Remembering The Colony’s Gene Cavallero Jr., Abraço Team Eyes New Space, and More Intel

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Sam Mason's artisanal mayo shop is moving soon, plus more news and gossip from around NYC

[The bar at Dirty French on the Lower East Side]
[The bar at Dirty French on the Lower East Side]
Daniel Krieger

Gene Cavallero Jr., the second-generation proprietor of storied Upper East Side restaurant The Colony, died earlier this month in Phoenix. He was 94. During his years running the restaurant, Cavallero Jr. catered to the whims of famous people like Frank Sinatra, Truman Capote, Diana Vreeland, and Jacqueline Kennedy. In his obituary, William Grimes notes: "The Colony extended credit to loyal clients down on their luck. It sent meals to their apartments when they were unhappy or ailing. It set aside a private room for their dogs, who could recline on poofy satin pillows and eat special meals from silver trays." In the late 60s, Cavallero Jr. hired Sirio Maccioni to work as a waiter and later as the maître d’hôtel. The Colony closed in 1971, and Cavallero Jr. moved to Arizona a few years after that.

The owners of tiny East Seventh Street coffee shop Abraço are planning to move into the former Krystal’s Cafe 81 space across the street. The proposal for the new cafe includes a vastly expanded food menu, as well as wine and cocktails. The sample food menu has things like patatas bravas, braised beans with zucchini, and a sweet corn salad with bluberries. All the food is vegetarian, and the menu lists a "daily lunch prix fixe" for $20. The team will go before the CB3’s SLA licensing committee next Monday.

— Chef shuffle update: Longtime Altamarea Group chef PJ Calapa recently left Ai Fiori to open the Wilfie & Nell team's new bar project, The Spaniard. A rep for Altamarea explains that the group is looking for his replacement both inside and outside the company, but things have been "running smoothly with the existing team in place."

Sam Mason’s fancy mayo store Empire Mayonnaise is moving out of its Prospect Heights home soon. The high rent is partially to blame, but Mason and his partners are also looking for a bigger space to make more of that $8 mayo. Co-owner Elizabeth Valleua tells DNAinfo: "We’ve had a great time there, but we’re all on top of each other now. We can’t possibly make enough mayonnaise in that space, so off we go."

— A self-described "modern Asian kitchen" called Ato is coming to 28 Grand Street in Soho. In other neighborhood news, the old Naked Lunch space around the corner is now home to a store called Soho’s Finest Market.

— Last year, the family that operated the Cucino a Modo Mio pizzeria in Corona, Queens, got busted by the NYPD for allegedly running a large-scale cocaine ring. And now, the Post reports that an unnamed witness who worked with the family is ready to testify about how restaurateur Gregorio Gigliotti imported the cocaine in the flaps of yucca boxes shipped from Costa Rica. The witness got a non-persecution agreement from the government. The Gigliotti family's trial will begin next month.

— In other pizzeria news, here’s a sweet profile of legendary Midwood pizzaiolo Dom DeMarco:

At a CB3 meeting this week, cheesemonger Anne Saxelby reported that business at Essex Street Market has been growing since the Economic Development Corporation agreed to help the organization with funds for marketing and event planning. The exterior of the 76-year-old building is now wrapped an in eye-catching mural.

— A team of restaurateurs wants to open a "Mexican-style BBQ" place called Cholo Noir at 503 E. Sixth St. This space was most recently home to a Vietnamese restaurant called Long Bay, but it only lasted five weeks.

— The Bronx and Newark locations of Joe’s Crab Shack will close later this year. Robert Merritt, the chief executive of the company that operates the chain, says that Joe’s is "a vacation brand" and it lacks "urban appeal."

— Four-year-old Bushwick bar Alaska is closing for good after service on July 3.

— And finally, here's an affectionate look at All-American Hamburger Drive-In, a classic comfort food restaurant in Massapequa, Long Island:

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