Super Linda's Matt Abramcyk Talks Branding, Dinner, and a Show: Part 1
Super Linda is not Matt Abramcyk's first Tribeca restaurant, and it's certainly not his last (but more on that in part two tomorrow). The finance-guy-turned-nightclub-honcho now spearheads a mini empire of restaurants in the neighborhood once dominated by Mr. De Niro. We caught up with the laid-back restaurateur at his usually packed-out place during a quiet afternoon and found out that hanging with the jolly green giant of hot spots is pretty pleasant in the sunny lanai facing West Broadway.
What was your inspiration for a Mexican restaurant? It's really Mexican plus shades of Uruguayan and Argentinian. . . . It's very social food, and it's food that goes very well with drinking and having a fun time and celebration. It has great energy. That's pretty much my inspiration . . . besides just loving the taste of the food.
You're more of a partner, a restaurateur. How much of a hand do you have in menu development? I love that, but I do hire people that are much smarter than I am. People who do that stuff and my partners can have more ideas about menus and food than I do. I'm sort of the person that can be as happy having a slice of pizza--a great slice of pizza--as I am having a great, perfectly cooked, many-ingredient, beautifully composed dish.
You have created your own brand. How do you define that brand? I think it's, hopefully, an environment or a brand that people feel is a combination of delivery and quality, whether it has to do with ambiance or a part of the service . . . or a part of the actual deliverable, which is maybe the food or the drink. Hopefully there's a common level of excellence. Which is sort of buoyed by the softer stuff--which is the way people are treated and the lighting and the whole way that you see yourself and the people in the space. Hopefully it's a softer space, a space that you feel very warm in or that you feel close to very quickly. I think that's the brand that I'm looking to continue and try to build.
It used to be that on Saturday night, you'd go to dinner and a show. Now dinner is the show. What are your thoughts on that idea, and do you think it puts more pressure on a restaurant? I love that question. I think probably it does put more pressure on the restaurant experience in that people are looking for more. I read The New York Times this week, and they wrote that [Alison Eighteen] was a very normal restaurant and that was the best part of it, and I thought that was funny and kind of a really interesting point by the reviewer. I think, like Pete Wells, that sometimes a normal restaurant experience is very welcome. I agree with that.
And I really think, to answer your question more specifically, there are all sorts of different things that people can do in a restaurant: You can propose to a woman. You can get really drunk. You can have a fine meal. You can have a bad meal. Of all the different things that can occur, we're most interested in creating an ambiance that you can feel very comfortable in . . . that you want to stay a while, that you're looking forward to having a drink, and you're looking forward to dessert. So there's the entire continuum of a meal, and, hopefully, you can enjoy the part of the restaurant that's more of a bar scene.
Yeah, it does put a little more pressure on, but we are OK with that. We like that. The pressure.
You personally transitioned from finance to restaurants . . . what was your impetus for that? I think people think that's interesting. Yeah, to a lot of people it is because they hate their jobs. We are so progressive in our society, and it's harder and harder to be creative in the workplace. And I think my main impetus was to be able to feel like I had more creativity. It was: "How do I express my creativity in the workplace?" I certainly didn't like sitting and creating in Excel for tons of hours a week, but nobody that does that likes it. The people that succeed in business work beyond those first two years where they're working their butts off. But I really didn't see myself being satisfied by the financial component. Again, I really wanted to express myself, and I wanted to work with people who could feel a community with. Less competitive and more progressive.
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