Q&A: Jesus Nunez of Barraca on Remaining Open During Hurricane Sandy, Part 1


Jesus Nunez is the chef of Barraca, a newly opened Spanish spot in the West Village owned by Hector Sanz, whose restaurant group is also behind downtown spots Macondo and Rayuela.

Formerly of Gastroarte on the Upper West Side, Nunez is dishing out authentic Spanish tapas and paella in West Village location modeled after a 1930s traveling theater company.

During the power outage, it was able to stay open via a generator and refrigerated truck. No food was spoiled, and on the Friday after the storm, it turned the corner of Greenwich Avenue and Bank Street into a movie theater by projecting Spanish movies onto the white facade of the refrigerated truck.

Barraca also boasts the city’s first ever sangria bar, featuring a variety of house-infused sangrias, such as Sangria de la Mancha with saffron-infused passion fruit, syrup made from clementines imported from Valencia, Don Q Limon rum, and Verdejo white wine.

We caught up with Nunez post-Sandy to chat about dealing with the aftermath of the hurricane and cooking by candles.

So as a restaurant in the West Village, you guys lost power like the rest of downtown Manhattan. What happened?
We did try our best to maintain the restaurant and keep it open with our generator. We were the only food operator in the West Village in the wake of the storm. We were thinking of the neighborhood, and we had to have something open. And it really was like a normal dinner.

So you were the only restaurant open in the West Village?
The only fully operated one. We had music, we had light, and we had a full menu.

How did you cook?
The first night, we were cooking with candles. The next with the generator, so we had light in the kitchen, and we were cooking like a regular restaurant. But because we didn’t have enough power in the generator, we brought our truck and parked it in front of the restaurant. The truck was our working box. We had food for 24 hours in the truck, and we only started the generator during service. And when we stopped the service, we removed everything from the kitchen put it back into the truck. The truck was working for four days for 24 hours.

Did your menu change at all?
Our menu was actually bigger. We had food coming from the other two restaurants, so every day we created a new menu. The biggest one was 25 dishes because we created new tapas with the food we had from the other two restaurants.