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.