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A Hot Brooklyn Restaurant Parts Ways With Star Chef, Goes Casual After a Month

Plus, another location for an all-day cafe Poppy’s — and more intel

Nettle cavatelli at Margot on a white plate atop a marble counter.
Chef Alexia Duchêne, a founding owner of Margot, is out from the restaurant.
Ronan LeMay/Margot

Margot, the Fort Greene restaurant with French flair, is changing up the concept a month after opening. Its star chef Alexia Duchêne — semifinalist on season 10 of Top Chef in France, an alum of Parisian restaurant Datsha, and Alain Ducasse’s Allard — announced on Instagram that last Friday was her last day in the kitchen. Owner Halley Chambers — former director of the Oberon Group, behind Brooklyn’s June, Rhodora, and Rucola — says she and co-owner Kip Green want to pivot Margot to something more casual. The three owners found they had disparate versions of the restaurant shortly after opening. “The first month of Margot felt inauthentic to Kip’s and my version of hospitality,” says Chambers. After the several-week opening stretch, they found they were looking for “simplicity” and “more fun.” In short, they’d like the spot to resonate as a neighborhood restaurant: “Alexia is extremely talented and has such a bright future ahead of her. We’re excited for her to find a home for her talent and to see what she does next.” In response to the split, Duchêne says, “My goal has always been to pursue excellence in everything I do and that is what I wanted to do at Margot. Which in the end, didn’t align with Halley and Kip’s ambition for the space.” She says she’s staying in New York to pursue her own project. Margot also owns the space upstairs with the goal to turn it into a home for workshops and pop-ups.

Blank Street causes a coffee shop to change its name

Blank Slate, a small chain of Manhattan cafes, changed its name to Slate Cafe earlier this month. Its owners say the restaurant, started in 2015, has been losing business from customers confusing it with Blank Street Coffee, the coffee start-up that’s opened 40 shops in New York City in the last two years. “It’s disappointing because we were here first,” says Ashley Jaffe, who started Blank Slate with co-founder Zach Israel. The business has an established presence in Nomad and Midtown, where it has operated for years, but more recently, customers have been coming into the shop trying to use the Blank Street app, while its delivery business has been edged out by countless listings from the chain online, its owners say.

Since 2020, Blank Street Coffee has opened three locations within blocks of Blank Slate’s Nomad location, one at 472 Third Avenue, another at 298 Fifth Avenue, and a Third at 127 East 23rd Street. “Customers constantly come in trying to use the Blank Street app,” Jaffe says. “Many people are not fans of Blank Street ... and accidentally avoid us thinking we are part of it.”

One of the largest Greek food stores in America has closed

Astoria’s Titan Foods is closed for now. The lease ends at the end of the month for the 40-year-old Queens anchor; Aniska31 Realty LLC will bulldoze the building to make way for a new apartment building. The behemoth store has plans to reopen in the neighborhood, following the signing of the lease. Anna Mastoras, daughter of the supermarket’s, owners Kostas and Stavroula Mastoras, told Astoria Post, “We will be relocating, not closing. We’re just getting an upgrade and seeing it as a good thing.” The online store remains open through the transition.

Brooklyn Poppy’s signs a new lease

A new location for Poppy’s, the Cobble Hill all-day cafe and market, will open at 48 Henry Street, near Cranberry Street, in Brooklyn Heights this fall in what had been the coffee shop mainstay, Cranberry’s, for over 40 years.