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La Vara Team Is Opening a Seafood Restaurant in Cobble Hill

Alex Raij and Eder Montero closed Tekoá and are putting in the Pilar

Eder Montero and Alex Raij
Eder Montero and Alex Raij
Alex Staniloff

Esteemed neighborhood restaurateurs Alex Raij and Eder Montero have shuttered their Cobble Hill coffee shop Tekoá — but the space will soon be home to a new restaurant from the duo, a fish-focused spot called the Pilar.

Raij and Montero — who also own La Vara, two doors down, as well as El Quinto Pino and Txikito — closed Tekoá a week ago and plan to open the Pilar early this summer. The restaurant, named after Ernest Hemingway’s boat, which was built in Brooklyn, will primarily serve fish but will not be nautically themed or Spanish, Raij says.

Though the menu is still under development, Raij says: “One thing I’ll tell you is it’s not a raw bar. The whole inspiration [for] this place is cooking.” The drinks program to match will focus primarily on wine and beer, along with some signature cocktails, as there isn’t room for a large bar in the space, which is being completely renovated.

The liquor license isn’t new, however. In the early days of Tekoá, it was used to fuel a dinner service of masa gnocchi, chicken Milanesa, and a fattoush salad. Despite good buzz, dinner at Tekoá never caught on, and the spot became primarily a coffee shop. In a farewell letter, the team writes: “We love coffee and coffee shops, but it’s a tough business! (Though we did enjoy spreading the love of Turkish breakfast — which you haven’t seen the last of.)”

With the Pilar, Raij and Montero plan to switch the model. “Dinner will support whatever we do during the day, not the other way around,” Raij says. But brunch and the return of that Turkish breakfast, or some riff on it, are almost certain.

For those in the neighborhood who miss Tekoá, Raij and Montero are urging them to visit other coffee shops nearby like Fare & Folk, which took over some of Tekoá’s inventory. At Tekoá, “The concept wasn’t working financially,” Raij says. “If we had bought every single pastry and just served coffee, and only employed baristas, we probably could’ve gotten it to work. But that’s not who we are.”