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Hip LA Chefs Tap Disgraced Ex-Estela Restaurateur Thomas Carter for New West Village Restaurant

Plus, Agi’s Counter is now open for dinner — and more intel

A portrait photo of Thomas Carter facing the camera, wearing a button down shirt and jacket.
Thomas Carter is involved in Froggy’s, a new West Village restaurant in the former Chumley’s space.
Daniel Krieger/Eater NY

Taste-making chefs Liz Johnson and Will Aghajanian, behind Los Angeles’ hip restaurant Horses, are set to debut a new restaurant later this year in the former home of storied West Village speakeasy Chumley’s, the New York Times reports. To do so, they have enlisted disgraced former Estela co-owner Thomas Carter to be involved with the restaurant, according to the Times.

In 2018, Carter left chef Ignacio Mattos’s acclaimed Matter House restaurant group after employees alleged that the restaurateur had created a toxic work environment and harassed staff for years. In the years since, little information regarding Carter’s next moves have been publicized.

Johnson tells Eater she tapped Carter to be involved in the new project, Froggy’s, for help with business strategy and financials. “We chose to work with him because we were seeking someone whose expertise would complement the vision for the project, and would help lighten the load from a business perspective,” she says. “Thomas will not be present on the floor day-to-day.”

Update: April 13, 2022, 12:47 p.m.: This article was updated to include comments from Liz Johnson about Thomas Carter’s involvement with Froggy’s.

Essex Pearl relaunches with an ex-Hanoi House chef

After temporarily closing in December, Essex Pearl, the seafood restaurant located in subterranean Market Line food hall inside Essex Crossing, reopens today with a new chef and a menu overhaul. According to a representative, Essex Pearl is now led by chef Daniel Le, an alum of sceney Soho spot the Tyger and acclaimed Vietnamese restaurant Hanoi House. The new Southeast Asian-leaning menu features surf and turf, Cambodian grilled pork jowl, crispy octopus, and offerings from its live fish tank. Essex Pearl is open Wednesday through Sunday from 5 to 10 p.m.

Agi’s Counter is now open for dinner

After opening last November with Eastern European-leaning pastries and sandwiches, chef Jeremy Salamon has now launched dinner service. According to the restaurant’s Instagram post, to start, dinner will be available from Wednesdays through Friday, from 5:30 to 9 p.m. The menu lists a glass of cold borscht, butterflied trout with dill, and cornmeal blinis with horseradish cream among its offerings. Agi’s Counter is located at 818 Franklin Avenue, near Eastern Parkway, in Crown Heights.

Word Central Kitchen heads to Brooklyn in the aftermath of yesterday’s horrific attack

After yesterday’s reports of a man setting off a grenade and opening fire on straphangers at the 36th Street subway station in Sunset Park, chef José Andrés’s World Central Kitchen appears to have teamed up with Upside Pizza to bring pies to first responders, according to a tweet from the organization.