Harlem has been at the center of Lewis Tucker’s life since he was a kid: “I grew up in the Bronx and Westchester and lived in Harlem,” he explains. “I’ve been playing basketball here since I was 10 years old. I’m entrenched in Harlem.” So years later, when he decided to add a restaurant to the collection of entrepreneurial activities he presides over — Tucker was the president of Sean Combs Enterprises, and he ran Bad Boy Records, Blue Flame Marketing & Advertising, and Justin’s Soul Foods Restaurants before he co-founded Essential Sports, a sports management agency that’s sent four players to the NBA in the last four years — Manhattan’s northern neighborhood was a natural location fit.
Tucker just unveiled the Park 112 (2080 Frederick Douglass Boulevard, 646-524-6610), a large, sleek lair serving a global menu.
Why go into the restaurant business? “The opportunity presented itself,” Tucker explains. “I saw the space with a friend who was looking at doing something, and the space was too big for him. I decided I would take it. It seemed like I could possibly fill a void in upper Manhattan.”
And that void, says Tucker, is a downtown-like restaurant in a dynamic uptown neighborhood. “This is a lifestyle restaurant along the lines of Beauty & Essex or Catch,” he says. “I wanted to create a lifestyle restaurant up in the Harlem area.” The space and experience have been designed to facilitate a quick stop or a lingering evening, and Tucker encourages guests to have a bite then move over to the bar for a drink then stick around or head on to their next stop in the area. “People are on the go,” he says. The large space is lined with tufted banquettes and centered on a communal table, and it’s lit by chandeliers
The menu, he says, is built around small plates constructed by chef Kingsley John, a native of the West Indies who did time in the kitchens under Marcus Samuelsson at Aquavit and Charlie Trotter. Tucker highlights the carrot ginger soup, kale salad, lobster rolls, jerk chicken egg rolls, teriyaki lolipops, duck lettuce wraps, seafood stew, and branzino as items guests should be sure not to miss.
The food pairs to a drink list that includes signature cocktails like the bourbon- and passion fruit-infused Frederick Douglass and the Park 112, a blend of sparkling wine, Pavan orange blossom liqueur, lemon vodka, and pomegranate. Drinkers can also dip into a wine selection built on 16 labels poured in one-ounce, three-ounce, and six-ounce portions from a self-service machine.
The Park 112 hosts its grand opening celebration tonight, and it will serve dinner until the end of the year. Come January 1, it will open for lunch and brunch.