Chumley’s may not become Froggy’s — at least anytime soon.
The storied West Village speakeasy — that since Prohibition had been a famous watering hole where F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and William Faulkner at one time or another sidled up to the bar — has been on track to become a new venture called Froggy’s, with chefs Liz Johnson and Will Aghajanian at the helm. Before opening Horses in Hollywood, which has been routinely described as one of the West Coast’s hottest restaurants, the chefs led microsensation Mimi in Soho, followed by Catbird Seat in Nashville. Following their now public divorce filings —which include restraining orders, alleged domestic abuse, and claims of animal cruelty — ownership in the project, as well as the name, is in transition.
Landlord and partner in the project Margaret Streicker Porres confirms the restaurant is still on. “Excited for Froggy’s and expect it to become a mainstay of the West Village,” she said. It’s unclear whether both Johnson and Aghajanian or one of them will shepherd the restaurant forward.
A source who had worked with the restaurateurs suggests the planned name for the restaurant won’t fly: “It’s a copyright nightmare” because it’s too common of a restaurant name in use already, they said.
In addition, a onetime advisor to the project, Thomas Carter, formerly with Ignacio Mattos of Estela and Café Altro Paradiso, hasn’t played an advisory role for at least several months. He confirms that going forward, he’s “not a managing partner,” and “I don’t have any involvement in the plans.” Carter parted ways with Mattos’s restaurants in 2018, following accusations that he harassed employees and created a toxic work environment. The project would have been Carter’s first since his work with Mattos.
Last spring, Johnson told Eater she reached out to Carter to be involved in the new project, Froggy’s, for help with business and strategy 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 said. “Thomas will not be present on the floor day-to-day.”
Then last summer, Horses made headlines when Eater LA reported that Johnson and Aghajanian sought spurned Spotted Pig restaurateur Ken Friedman’s help in opening the restaurant.
Former Chumley’s space landlord Streicker Porres, who is involved in real estate and philanthropy in New York, used to own the building the Spotted Pig was in before it was purchased by rapper Jay-Z for chef April Bloomfield and Friedman in 2005. By 2020, Friedman paid $240,000 and a share of his profits to nearly a dozen former employees in a settlement for the sexual harassment and discrimination case brokered by the New York State attorney general’s office. What had been the Spotted Pig has since been sold.
Both Johnson and Aghajanian could not be reached for comment.