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Tao to Buy Michelin-Starred Al Coro, Will Close Restaurant by Year’s End

One year in, Jeff Katz and Melissa Rodriguez are taking on new backers for current restaurants, Al Coro, Mel’s, and nightclub Discolo

The inside of a grand restaurant.
Al Coro is closing to become something new in 2024.
Jutharat Pinyodoonyachet/Eater NY

Al Coro, Mel’s, and Discolo, built by Jeff Katz and chef Melissa Rodriguez from the ashes of Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich’s Del Posto, is selling to Tao Group.

Al Coro will close by the end of the year to become something else, a spokesperson from Tao confirms. Mel’s will remain open “as you know and love it,” says Katz, though what happens to Discolo is up in the air.

According to a statement released by both Tao along with Katz and Rodriguez, it’s not so much as buyout or “‘changing of hands’ but a partnership.”

“Tao Group Hospitality has unique expertise, resources and global relationships that Mel and I think complement our skill sets really well,” said Katz in the release. “I’ve known the team personally for many years now, and am excited to see what we can create together.”

Tao is one of the biggest restaurant groups in the country as well as New York. The global group — which sold to Mohari earlier this year — has 30 properties in New York City, among 70 worldwide. Tao in Midtown, the group’s original pan-Asian clubstaurant, opened in 2000, while Midtown’s Lavo and Beauty and Essex on the Lower East Side have both been open for 12 years.

Al Coro taking on new backers like Tao is highly unusual for a seasoned hospitality team that has landed a slew of coveted awards: In 2022, Al Coro was awarded two Michelin stars; in 2023, Al Coro was a James Beard Awards Semifinalist.

The restaurant endeavor was full circle for both Katz and Rodriguez, who both worked at Del Posto. The relaunch in the space intended to do away with the narrative of Del Posto, its predecessor of 16 years, before closing in 2021. Del Posto, where Batali was an owner, found itself in the middle of the restaurant industry’s own #MeToo. Announcing the launch of Al Coro, a video was posted showing the Manhattan space being saged.

Despite an overall positive review, Pete Wells suggested there was a lot riding on the success of these projects in his New York Times review of Mel’s. “If Mel’s seems to push too hard on the fun factor, it may be because the place has a monster of a back story,” he wrote. Not all were impressed with the duo’s undertakings, with Steve Cuozzo at the New York Post calling Al Coro a “pretentious nightmare.”

Throughout summer 2023, Mel’s has been hosting pop-ups, and inviting top chefs like Gabriel Kreuther, to design limited-offer, signature pies at the restaurant.

It’s clear a lot of money went into Al Coro, Mel’s, and Discolo — hiring the same architecture firm as Crown Shy and Saga, where Katz was formerly a co-owner. Last year, Eater reported that Katz was splitting from Crown Shy and Sage partner James Kent. Al Coro, Mel’s, and Discolo are his first projects outside of that endeavor.

“We are thrilled to announce this partnership,” said Paul Goldstein, COO of Tao Group Hospitality. “After knowing Jeff and Melissa for many years, we look forward to them bringing their hands-on culinary expertise to an impressive group of hospitality veterans. We’re excited to have them join the team and anticipate a powerful collaboration.”