The first time we sat down with Angelo Sosa, he had just debuted his now-defunct Asian sandwich shop, Xie Xie, amid the thick of the banh mi craze. Now, nearly two years later, we chat with him again as he prepares to debut Social Eatz, an Asian-inspired comfort-food restaurant with an accent on the “social.” He hopes to open in early March.
Tell us about your forthcoming restaurant, Social Eatz.
It’s located on 53rd between Second and Third. It’s really simple. The concept is American comfort food mingled with Asian flavors. That’s kind of my thing: spice-induced cuisine. So, we’re going to put a little of that edge on American traditional cuisine.
Can you give some menu examples?
We’re going to take something like a sloppy joe, which I have great childhood memories of, and turn it into a Sloppy Ho Chi Minh. We do our own proprietary meat blend and infuse it with tamarind and some gochujang, which is a fermented Korean chili paste. So it’s luscious and flavorful like a regular sloppy joe, but with an Asian twist. Our burgers are going to raise a couple eyebrows. And we’ll do yuzu beignets for dessert. I’m really excited about the concept. I think it’s going to be whimsical and fun and downright yummy.
Will you have a liquor license?
We’re going to have a bar and open for both lunch and dinner. We’ll have really cool cocktails, common cocktails that people can relate to, but with an Asian flair.
How will it differ from Xie Xie?
It’s not even the same genre as Xie Xie. It’s a restaurant. It’s not a sandwich shop. There will be some sandwiches, but it’s a micro part of the menu. I know some of the media has called it a sandwich shop, maybe because they know me from Xie Xie, but it’s a fully functioning restaurant. You should expect to come in and be seated by a hostess. No reservations, very casual. The price point is amazing. It’s a great value.
How are you liking the neighborhood?
There’s a lot of big corporations, like Citi Group and Bank of America. So, I think we’re going to do high lunch traffic. But I’m more excited for dinner.
How did you come up with the name?
I wasn’t part of the naming process. But the meaning behind the name is that we’re in this age of social media. And eating out at a restaurant is a social experience. It’s a time to come together with family and friends. So, that’s the meaning behind the name.
Will there be a strong social-media component?
There will actually be a huge social-media element. I mean, huge. I can’t disclose all of that information right now, but I’m going to be Tweeting and on Facebook. And we’ll have other means of [communicating], as well. And, especially with the show, Top Chef [All-Stars], we’ll have that play into the Tweeting and social-media aspect, too.
Do you have any guilty pleasures?
I’m a sucker for takeout. Oh my God. It’s funny: People are always, like, “How do you stay so skinny? Don’t you want to try your own food? Or don’t you want to go out to eat?” I’m, like, “No, no. I’m fine.” And I’ll just hold out all day until I get home late at night and call the Chinese restaurant. There’s one Chinese restaurant in my neighborhood that’s just amazing. And I love obscure things like a slice of pizza with sriracha.
Stay tuned for Part II of our interview, tomorrow.