Openings

Stephen Starr Talks El Vez NYC, Opening This Week

By Danya Henninger  |  April 22, 2014
Credit: Danya Henninger

First he did it with Morimoto, then Buddakan and now El Vez. Later this week, Stephen Starr will open an NYC version of his Midtown Village Mexican hit in Manhattan’s Financial District. Zagat NYC’s Kelly Dobkin sat down with Philadelphia’s most prolific restaurateur and got him to spill a few details on the new spot. Of interest:

- Chef is Dave LaForce, who Starr plucked directly from the kitchen at El Vez Philadelphia. The menu was designed by the Starr Restaurants’ Mexican culinary team, led by Dionicio Jimenez. (Replacing LaForce in Philly is Kevin Taylor, a CIA grad who has a lot of Mexican food experience, first in Texas, then at Los Amigos in New Jersey.)

- NYC menu will be different from Philly, but not very much, especially because the Midtown Village spot just underwent a revamp in anticipation of the Manhattan launch.

- Starr says Philadelphia diners may be a “slightly tougher” crowd than NYC, mostly because there aren’t a lot of transients. “It’s like going to your family’s. I know them all and it’s the same people,” he says.

- NYC interior is “the antitheses of financial institution style,” with a bar like a Mexican saloon and a dining room done up like a garage, with automobile fabric upholstering the big booths (like the ones in Philly, they seat six or eight people).

- Starr’s next NYC project, on the Bowery in partnership with Fette Sau’s Joe Carroll, will be a bigger version of St. Anselm (Carroll’s Williamsburg "blue-collar" steakhouse), with 95 seats and a target opening date of fall 2014.