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Chelsea Bistro’s Outdoor Setup Destroyed After Suspected Arsonist Sets It Ablaze

Plus, Nom Wah is popping up in the Hamptons this weekend — and more intel

A grey restaurant corner facade with dark awnings draped with green ivy.
French bistro LouLou opened in Chelsea in early 2020.
LouLou

Suspected arsonist sets outdoor dining structure at Chelsea restaurant Loulou on fire

A suspected arsonist targeted Loulou, a popular French bistro in Chelsea, this week and allegedly started a fire that destroyed the restaurant’s outdoor dining structure, the New York Post reports. The New York City Fire Department responded early Monday morning to put out the blaze, which also damaged the restaurant’s exterior facade. No one at Loulou was injured in the fire.

The suspect, a man named Alex Blodgett, was arrested shortly after the FDNY was called to the scene at Loulou. He has also been charged with setting over a dozen garbage fires on Monday morning.

A spokesperson for the restaurant tells Eater that they estimate that the damages from the blaze will total around $250,000, which they believe will be covered by insurance. “We are not going to be taken down by this,” Loulou owner Mathias Van Leyden, who opened the corner spot weeks before the pandemic hit last year, said in an email statement. “We will use this as a reason to rebuild the outdoor area of our already beautiful restaurant to be even better than it was before.” Van Leyden estimates that the restaurant will reopen in two to three weeks.

The incident marks the second time in under three weeks that suspected arsonists have been arrested in part for setting outdoor dining structures ablaze in NYC. In late July, acclaimed sommelier and La Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels partner Caleb Ganzer was arrested and charged with lighting multiple outdoor patios on fire earlier this year, including at LES newcomer Forsythia and Prince Street Pizza in Nolita.

In other news

— Chef JJ Johnson of Fieldtrip partnered up with Columbia University for BrainFood, a free public cooking demonstration and presentation about the science of eating food. The event will be livestreamed on YouTube and Facebook at 6 p.m. on August 19, and free meal ingredient kits for the demonstration are available for pickup at Mandala Cafe on August 18 from 5 to 7 p.m.; and the Harlem Grown Community Fridge on August 18 and 19, from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., according to an event representative.

— Dim sum institution Nom Wah is popping up in the Hamptons at Amagansett’s Main Street Tavern on Saturday, August 21. Pork soup dumplings, shrimp sui mai, and more will be available from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the restaurant, according to a representative.

— Also on Saturday, Coffee Project New York is partnering with Mizar Coffee for a photo exhibition showcasing Ethiopian coffee farmers at Coffee Project’s academy in Long Island City. The exhibition will run for a month, and tickets start at $10 apiece. Proceeds will be donated to support efforts for coffee farmers in Sidama, Ethiopia.

— Inside Nook, a cozy, community-centered coffee and craft beer bar in Bushwick.

— Multiple Staten Island restaurant owners have banded together to sue New York over the state’s vaccine mandate, citing overreach into private business decisions.

— Seriously:

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