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Ex-Tao Group Chef Eyes Shuttered Neighborhood Gem Great Jones Cafe

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The proposed reboot will have a new menu from a former Vandal chef supposedly known as “Chef Big Sexy”

Great Jones Café
Great Jones Café
Photo by Nick Solares

Noho Cajun restaurant Great Jones Cafe — which closed after 35 years following the death of owner Jim Moffett — might return to its former space at 54 Great Jones St. with a team of new owners, EV Grieve reports.

Anthony Marano, who owns the building, appeared before the community board’s SLA licensing committee in September alongside partners Scott Marano, Byron Burnbaum, and Jonathan Kavourakis as the new partners of Great Jones Hospitality LLC with plans to reopen the restaurant. Kavourakis — supposedly known as “Chef Big Sexy” — used to be the executive chef at Tao Group’s LES clubstaurant Vandal.

But it sounds like the new iteration of Great Jones Cafe is making some changes to the original concept, which opened in 1983. Namely, the menu will pivot from Cajun food to “modern American,” as Kavourakis described it at the committee meeting, according to EV Grieve. The chef said that the Cajun-inspired menu previously served at Great Jones Cafe is “not trending now,” according to EV Grieve.

Part of the original Great Jones Cafe’s appeal, of course, was its longevity that distinctly did not hinge on being trendy but rather, as writer Peter Meehan wrote in his farewell, its “everyday magic.” The last owner Moffett became a regular of the lively restaurant shortly after it opened, buying it in 1989 and co-owning it with general manager Bill Judkins. While it was a late-night fixture and often bustling, Great Jones Cafe wasn’t really considered a clubby scene the way that Kavourakis’ Vandal is.

Other changes may be made, too. The new owners proposed hours of 11 a.m. to 4 a.m. daily — the same late-night hours the original restaurant had — but some neighbors expressed concerns about this as well as about noise from the old venting system. The applicants agreed to a layover on their application in order to explore installing a new venting system and reconsider the late-night hours. They will appear before the SLA licensing committee meeting again tonight.

Eater NY has reached out to the Community Board and the restaurant’s team for more information.

Great Jones Cafe

54 Great Jones Street, Manhattan, NY 10012 (212) 674-9304 Visit Website

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