Q&A: Jesus Nunez of Barraca on Remaining Open During Hurricane Sandy, Part 2


Jesus Nunez is the chef of Barraca, a newly opened Spanish spot in the West Village that serves up tapas and paella.

During the power outage, the restaurant was able to stay open via a generator and refrigerated truck. No food was spoiled, and on the Friday after the storm, the staff 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.

Yesterday, we caught up with Nunez post-Sandy to chat about dealing with the aftermath of the hurricane. Today we continue that conversation with how they managed to entertain their guests.

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Were you guys able to turn a profit?

It wasn’t about money. It was a social act for the neighborhood. We wanted to bring light and warmth to the darkness. We were renting the generator. We brought people in from Queens, from Brooklyn, and ended up spending more money than we made. But we were thinking that it was something nice for us. We’re a new restaurant and we had to have the restaurant open in the neighborhood.

How was business?

Most of the nights we had more than 120 people. It was very nice because everything was dark and you can see everything from the outside.

How did you get the idea of projecting movies onto your truck?

I was looking at the truck. It’s a big white truck on the side of the street and I realized that it was like a white canvass. We had a projector in the company and we projected it to the white canvass of the truck.

Did any food go spoiled?

No because we created a new menu everyday. Everything was always refrigerated. From the first moment when the power went off, we took all our food and put it in the truck. The food was in the perfect condition.

You guys are a fairly new restaurant. How would you describe your menu?

In the last two years, I was doing modern Spanish cuisine and now I’m changing to global, casual comfort food. It’s a Spanish variation of tapas. The concept of the restaurant is tapas, paella, and sangria. We have six different type of sangria: sangria with sake, with wine, and passion fruit. Each sangria has a completely different personality. We have something that’s unique in the city. You can have two different flavors in your paella pan. So if you’re coming with a friend, and your friend wants black paella and you want seafood paella, you can order it in the same pan.

What has this experience taught you guys?

We are a new restaurant and we have a very strong theme. Everyone pushed to be here and to make people smile. We wanted to give the restaurant to the people and bring warmth and light. It was this experience that made our team stronger. For a new restaurant like we are, it is very important that we are open. This situation with Sandy really made our team and created a big family.