The By Chloe team is having trouble striking gold twice. Dez — ESquared’s highly branded, Instagram-y Middle Eastern fast-casual restaurant — has closed following just over a year in Nolita.
It was By Chloe co-founder Samantha Wasser and hospitality group ESquared’s second bid to do a viral fast-casual restaurant modeled after the success of By Chloe. The company’s attempt to create the By Chloe of pasta, called the Sosta, also went kaput after a year.
Like By Chloe, Dez followed a formula where branding mattered just as much as the food. It had a lot of the Matisse-style cutouts that’s trendy right now in design and leaned heavily into social media.
Wasser partnered up with chef Eden Grinshpan for the venture at 227 Mulberry St., between Prince and Spring streets, serving a straightforward menu of salads, bowls, and mezes (small plates) to accompany flatbreads. Dez was the first restaurant for Grinshpan, who’s also known for hosting Eden Eats on the Cooking Channel and Top Chef Canada.
ESquared’s spokesperson writes in a statement that Dez “fell short of expectations,” and business wasn’t enough to keep the doors open.
The longtime New York-based hospitality group is behind restaurants such as the Wayfarer and BLT Prime, and By Chloe was its first major success in the fast-casual market. The vegan chain now has more than a dozen locations across the U.S. and the UK.
But it’s been a mess: ESquared and the restaurant’s founding chef Chloe Coscarelli had an ugly legal split, where the company and its CEO Jimmy Haber ultimately pushed the chef out but kept her name. Coscarelli, who has an avid following for her vegan recipes, is still trying to get the rights to her name back. In March, she filed yet another lawsuit, joined by chef Tom Colicchio due to a vegan pop-up at Craft.
Meanwhile, By Chloe continues to expand. Last April, the company announced a $31 million investment for new locations.