There are countless adages that seem appropriate for life’s bumps and bruises (especially those involving kitchens), but the Japanese proverb “Fall seven times, stand up eight” seems to best encapsulate the trials Black Crescent (76 Clinton Street; 212-477-1771) has gone through since a fire knocked out the business in January of 2015. The New York restaurant scene is notorious for a steady stream of openings and closings, but Black Crescent’s refusal to throw in the bar towel after overcoming numerous hurdles has assured that Clinton Street will be a busy destination this weekend.
Black Crescent’s partners — including owners, Carlos Baz and Michael Reynolds, as well as chef Dustin Everett — were committed to reopening despite the fact that they were standing in a room filled with two feet of water just days after the electrical fire last year. However, it became clear with each passing week that someone else was going to determine how long it would be until the restaurant could open its doors again.
The initial fire and water damage were devastating, but the process of getting the gas turned back on — along with other difficulties like getting approval from the Department of Buildings — was equally demoralizing. The owners initially thought Black Crescent would be approved to open after a five-month period, but the new time frame for reopening went from a sprint to a marathon. Forms were rejected because they weren’t printed on double-sided paper. Approval for a hot-water boiler was met with a “No.”
The moment the gang realized an exact reopening date wouldn’t be part of the plan was a low point for them, and they resigned themselves to being ready for “whenever the city got around to it.” But that delay did have some benefits.
Baz, Reynolds, and Everett had the opportunity to fine-tune all the aspects of their food and bar offerings. It also helped them connect with the surrounding community, as unsolicited feedback and encouragement helped reinforce the idea that Black Crescent was meant to be there. The fears of becoming an afterthought were erased each time a neighbor asked about a reopening date.
“We couldn’t have gotten to this point without the neighborhood,” says Baz, who credits fellow Lower East Siders like Donnybrook, Jeromes, and Pig and Khao as part of the restaurant’s support system.
“We’ve all grown a little bit closer together because we’ve gone through this ordeal,” adds Reynolds.
Though just being open and having the gas turned on is exciting, the partners have plans to go big when they hit their one-year anniversary. For the bash, they’re planning on bringing in their Clinton Street neighbor Andy Lin, creator of the Self Portrait Project. Lin’s photo booth allows guests be both model and photographer, a fitting sentiment for a bar that can finally be what it was meant to be.
Black Crescent will be welcoming guests throughout the weekend for drink specials, but Sunday, February 28 marks the first official day of food and cocktail service.
A photo posted by Black Crescent (@blackcrescentny) on
76 Clinton Street