Oliver Zabar — grandson of the man who opened iconic Jewish grocery store Zabar’s — kicks off his first solo project this week with Devon, a Lower East Side cocktail bar and restaurant that pivots his family’s local food legacy downtown.
Located at 252 Broome St., between Orchard and Ludlow Streets, the venue is the young restaurateur’s first project away from his father, Eli, who owns a network of Eli’s-branded markets, restaurants, and bars on the Upper East Side. In 2015, he and his father opened craft beer bar Eli’s Night Shift on the UES.
Devon, named after Oliver’s mother, arrives Wednesday, November 7, with spiked sodas, punches, cocktails, beers, and wines, as well as what Oliver calls “elevated” bar food, such as grilled octopus, lamb meatballs, and steak tartare.
An LES resident, Oliver prefers to evolve his empire within his own neighborhood, he says. This wasn’t his first attempt to break into the downtown market. He initially considered an all-day cafe in Nolita, and plans for a second location of Eli’s Night Shift in Chinatown faced opposition from the community.
“This space was the final piece of the puzzle,” Oliver says.
Devon’s kitchen will be helmed by Josh Blum, who previously worked at Le Turtle, Aquavit, and Betony. The menu is inspired by what Oliver says he would personally like to see at bars, which translates to “fun” shareable dishes. That includes roasted artichokes served with maitake mushrooms and a poached egg, harissa chicken wings flavored with almonds and honey, and a monkfish katsu sandwich. A popular dry-aged burger at Eli’s Night Shift has found its way onto Devon’s menu, too. Prices range from $7 for the duck-fat fried peanuts up to $18 for the burger.
Sean Saunders, previously a bartender with the Happiest Hour, takes charge of the drink menu, in which both refined and highball-style cocktails sit alongside large, shareable punches like the “Red Bluff,” a red pepper clarified milk punch.
While Oliver is fully spearheading this newest concept, Eli won’t be too far removed; he has plans to open a French-style bakery next door at 254 Broome St. early next year. “We joke that he felt left out without having a place down here,” Oliver says.
Once the bakery opens, fresh breads and pastries will be added to Devon’s offerings.
The space itself seats 65 and has a retro-modern feel, with brick-walled interiors offset by long and sleek white tables, and the bar is made from deep-pink terrazzo slabs that Eli stored in a warehouse for years.
Devon opens Wednesday at 5 p.m. It’ll be open until 1 a.m. Sunday through Wednesday and until 2 a.m. Thursday through Saturday.