The space for seminal East Village mezcal cocktail bar Mayahuel has reopened as a another mezcal cocktail bar, also called Mayahuel — but previous owner Ravi DeRossi alleges that the copycat naming is illegal.
Keith Siilats, the landlord of the building at 304 East 6th Street near Second Avenue, announced via the Times earlier this week that he’d reopened the space and is temporarily calling the new bar Mayahuel. DeRossi claims that Siilats signed an agreement saying he would not use the name and has already sent the information to his attorney.
But Siilats says he does have the right to call it Mayahuel. The landlord alleges that DeRossi owes him thousands of dollars in rent money from June, July, and August, and because DeRossi still hasn’t paid, he can keep using the name. Rent per month was about $10,000, Siilats says.
“I haven’t put up a sign saying Mayahuel yet, so if Ravi wants to pay me rent for June, July, August by next week, I won’t do it,” Siilats says. He still would give the bar a new name, but he would wait until January so he can close the bar for renovations during slow season. If DeRossi does pay, Siilats will instead close next week for renovations, he says.
In response, DeRossi writes: “He has no idea what he's talking about, I'm just going to let our attorneys figure it out.”
The relationship between DeRossi and Siilats has been testy for years. The restaurateur sued the landlord in 2011 for a leaky roof, and the court ultimately found in his favor for more than $60,000. Then, Siilats claims that rent checks bounced in 2016, and in February 2017, the duo reached a legal settlement where DeRossi would pay Siiltas more than $100,000 in rent and fees.
Mayahuel first opened in 2009 and was one of several DeRossi bars that helped establish the East Village as a cocktail destination. With its success, a slew of other cocktail bars focusing on one liquor popped up, and drinking culture started taking mezcal and tequila seriously, too.
Siilats’ version of the bar, now open, currently has no sign up front. Instead of a restaurant name, the bar’s address is written at the top of the menu, which can be seen below. Radouane Eljaouhari, who ran Moroccan restaurant Zerza, created the food menu here, offering dishes like shakshuka, couscous, and chicken quesadillas.