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Danny Bowien Almost Opened a Mission Vietnamese Restaurant on LES

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It never happened

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Danny Bowien
Danny Bowien at his now-shuttered restaurant Mission Cantina
Daniel Krieger

In an alternate universe, New York would be home to Danny Bowien’s version of a Vietnamese restaurant called Mission Vietnamese — that is, if it hadn’t been for a nasty split between Bowien and his Mission Cantina investor.

Mission Cantina, the chef’s experimental Mexican and Chinese restaurant on the Lower East Side, closed in December 2016, and in the spring, investor Scott Kasen sued the restaurant, claiming that the chef and company owed him more than $426,000. Last week, Bowien shot back in court, arguing that Kasen “used and abused my trust of him” and is not legally entitled to the cash, according to an affidavit.

But within the public documents, Bowien and his attorneys revealed an alternate history to Mission Cantina: a switch to Mission Vietnamese.

Cantina “continued to hemorrhage money” and by fall of 2016, the partners realized that the restaurant was not going to succeed, according to court files. Bowien, along with the other partners, “seriously discussed” turning the 172 Orchard Street space into a Vietnamese restaurant. Mission Cantina, which went through a slew of iterations, had at one point served a quite popular Vietnamese breakfast with dishes like duck porridge and lamb pho.

By November 2016, the Mission Cantina team — including Kasen — instead decided to move the Vietnamese restaurant idea to a space on Canal Street with “a highly reduced rent,” court documents show. According to Eater sources, they at one point eyed the former Pies ‘n’ Thighs space at 43 Canal Street. Mission Chinese executive chef Angela Dimayuga told Eater earlier this spring that they never nailed down the space and wouldn’t be moving forward with the idea. On Tuesday, she said she could not speak to any potential Mission Vietnamese restaurants.

Alas, that future never happened. Kasen sued Mission Cantina LLC, where Bowien is the majority owner, and now, the two are fighting it out in court. Bowien/Cantina has asked the court to deny Kasen’s request for the money.

Bowien’s attorney declined to comment further. Stay tuned for more.

Mission Cantina

172 Orchard St, New York, NY 10002 (212) 254-2233 Visit Website

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