Two years ago, chef Jay Brown was tasked with expanding the menu at the New Jersey restaurant for which he worked–and he had to do it cheaply. So he developed a number of dishes using braised meats–which allowed him to use cheaper cuts–and he’d serve anything leftover from dinner service as sandwiches the next day.
Braised meat sandwiches, he noticed, were lacking in the NYC market, too. So he and longtime friend Steve Applegate began conspiring to launch their own business, Mayhem & Stout, to fill the gap.
Still working other jobs in the industry, the partners began making food fair appearances, peddling their fare at Mad. Sq. Eats, UrbanSpace Meatpacking, the Union Square Holiday Market, and the Columbus Circle Holiday Market. In April of 2012, they landed a daily stall at the Dekalb Market, which was enough to make them quit their day jobs. And while they soon amassed a loyal following even as they changed their menu almost every day, the guys’ ultimate goal was to land a permanent space. “We were using the food fair to see what people liked and didn’t like,” explains Applegate.
They went full throttle toward that brick and mortar location when the Dekalb Market shut down in September 2012, three months earlier than its intended New Year’s 2013 finale. So the partners picked up a lease for 711 Second Avenue, outfitting it with an open kitchen and a very small dining room.
They’ll open the doors to that spot on August 16, revealing a core menu culled from all of that market feedback: Expect short rib, pork, chicken, and lamb, says Applegate, each of which is braised for six hours (with the exception of the chicken, which takes two hours to cook). As they did at their stand, they’ll also make their own sauces and add-ons–like blueberry sriracha, blue cheese aioli, and tzatziki–for the sandwiches. And they’ll continue their tradition of experimentation, keeping a seasonal menu that will rotate with ingredient availability.
The board will pair to non-alcoholic drinks at the outset, and as with the food, the guys are putting emphasis on local products: They’ll source Boylan’s from New Jersey and organic tea from Brooklyn-based Cup and Compass. Eventually, says Applegate, they’d like to expand into a beer and wine list, too.
And while Applegate and Brown will devote most of their attention to their new home, they’ll also continue to make occasional appearances at the food fairs that gave them their start.
Mayhem & Stout will initially be open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m, though Applegate says hours may expand once the pair gets a feel for the needs of the neighborhood.