El Quijote will live on. The 88-year-old Chelsea Spanish restaurant will still close on March 30, but it will reopen about six months down the line following a complete renovation, new owners say.
Depending on who tells the story, though, this is either a good or bad thing. According to co-owner Ira Drukier, the renovations will bring long-needed changes, such as air-conditioning and an updated kitchen.
But longtime staffers tell Eater that they were given just two weeks severance, despite how many years they’ve worked at the restaurant. One employee tells the Post that someone who just started this month all the way to the 30-year-tenured executive chef are all getting the same amount, saying “the staff is being disrespected.” An employee adds to Eater that they aren’t sure whether the severance will be the base pay or the average post-gratuity amount.
Drukier’s response is that the severance is “appropriate ... for the time we’ve owned the restaurant (one year).” He also does not yet know “details of future staffing,” so it’s unclear if those let go will get their jobs back upon reopening. But the Post’s tipster said the workers have been informed that they can re-interview. “It was a slap in the face,” the source said.
Drukier and his partners Richard Born and Sean MacPherson head up BD Hotels, which also owns the Bowery, Ludlow, Jane, and Maritime Hotels. BD acquired Hotel Chelsea, where El Quijote resides, in 2016 and is in the middle of a lengthy renovation that Drukier promises will maintain “the spirit of EQ.”
That spirit is a quirky one, with floor-to-ceiling mural of scenes from Don Quixote, the book that inspired the name. Stay tuned for more.