It’s been eight years since Bill Telepan first opened up his eponymous restaurant on the Upper West Side, and in that time, he’s amassed a fervent following for his deftly crafted menu and locavore ethos. But when he began toying around with the idea of opening a second spot, he didn’t make plans to export a second Telepan to a different part of the city. Instead, he mulled opening something new, settling on a more casual American tapas spot when his general manager returned from Barcelona.
“He came home and said, ‘You’re doing an American tapas restaurant,'” Telepan recalls. “It made sense — we would be taking that small plates concept and putting it to our ideal of eating seasonal and local. It kind of came together from there.”
And so the team began searching for real estate, eventually settling on a 120-year-old building in Tribeca because, according to Telepan, “Tribeca felt good to us — my business partner lives down there, he can watch over it a little more closely. It’s a good part of the city.” The group got to work building out Telepan Local (329 Greenwich Street, 212-966-9255), which just opened its doors last week.
At his new spot, which is bedecked in light woods and subway tiles, Telepan says you’ll still find a focus on produce: “We’re doing a lot of veg, which is what we do uptown in a more formal way. Here, it’s simply done with more flavor.” By way of example, he cites a cauliflower gratin on a bed of cauliflower puree with cheddar. Look, too, for whimsical takes on tapas, like a play on the pan con tomate that makes the dish a grilled cheese and a shrimp popper that draws inspiration from the jalapeño popper.
Above all, says Telepan, “Joel Javier — my chef down there — and I are doing what we’d want to eat if we went to this restaurant. He’s Filipino; I’m Hungarian and Slovak. The mishmash of that idea is what becomes an American restaurant.”
Beverages match the theme; beers hail from within 100 miles; cocktails are made with seasonal ingredients, homemade vermouth, and house bitters; and the wine list is designed to be “accessible and interesting,” says Telepan. “There are things for people who want a glass of red, and things for people who want a really good glass of wine.” The bar will also keep a wine and a cocktail on tap.
Telepan Local is currently open for dinner; the restaurant is waiting on a gas upgrade, and then it will expand the menu into lunch and brunch and open the private party room for private parties. “There’s a lot more that we’re going to be able to do in this spot,” says Telepan. “It’s a great area for business. It’s going to keep me busy for awhile.”
So does he have plans for more restaurants in the works? “This one’s a great concept, I think, and hopefully we’ll do our job and people will like it,” says Telepan. “But I want to take a vacation first.”