Experiences The Chef

Pata Negra Saga Chapter 3

Week Six and business is doing well. A shout out to a flow of regulars like Holly, Larry, and Melanie, just to name a few. I have been paid a few visits by chefs, business owners and wine people (industry) which is encouraging because they can eat anywhere and decided to give Pata Negra a try. Terroir has opened one block away and already they are packed. The residual has trickled in, and some ladies have complained to me that they smell of fried food, a problem I’m sure Marco and Paul will be fixing forthwith.

A note on the people at Hearth. I have yet to meet Marco, but I did meet Paul at Insieme a few weeks back. He was very professional, confident and courteous. While having a drink at Hearth, I met a Haitian guy named Jeff who was having cheese and wine at the bar. It turns out he works there, and we had a long chat. Later on in the evening he came by Pata Negra and we listened to old Haitian songs sipping more Spanish wine. Matt has been by a couple of times as well, and it just seems to me that the crew over there has got it together. Whenever I have a night off, I will try the food.

Siesta is coming along, although I feel some people really need some time off, so much so that when the bill comes and they’ve had five drinks each, they scratch their heads as to the accuracy. My sangria is quite strong. I would lose count after five.

Making it out of February was a challenge financially, but I juggled it right, even with sales tax due and insurance premiums. There are some other issues with the management company that are not resolved, but that I’ll tell later.

Pata Negra product has been selling well, and I have been running out frequently. I apologize if you arrive and I limit your purchase. My reserve wine list recently took a hit, with some of the stars shining out of the bottle – Torre Muga 1998, Gran Albina 2001, La Rioja Alta 904 1995, Vina Alberdi 2000 etc. I will try to restock soon.

My work crew is settled, with Andres the wunderkind from Guerrero painting perfect plates of ham and cheese, and Juliana, a no-nonsense Brazilian who is learning her grapes quite rapidly. Add the Spanish dove Paloma on Saturday night and I’m set.

As I look ahead towards April, I will be reconfiguring the room for larger groups and install fans of course. Spring is here! Sticking to my menu, changed some wines. Had a couple of reviewers come down for a chat. Held a private party for the ever gracious Sarita of S’Mac, the popular Mac-n-cheese shop next door to me. Contact me if you’d like to do the same.

Chapter 3

Late September, Community Board meeting, I attend with Lolo. There’s a packet of stuff to fill out, with pictures, diagrams, blueprints menus affidavits. It’s all mind boggling. The Community Board is an ominous meeting of residents and a panel who have a clear agenda. At CSD2 their agenda became very obvious, no more bars. At one time there was no business in the East Village, and so the flood gates were open. But time has changed. Relying on laws such as the 500 foot rule, or proximity to a church or school, it is actually very easy to find grounds for denial. I was number 50 out of a docket of 51 slated for the evening. The tone was set early with rejection after rejection. Any mention of the word “bar” and there was resistance from the rafters. If anything was remiss from the application, well that meant try again next month. And just like that you are behind schedule one month. These applicants had signed leases and plans, money tied down. That didn’t matter to the board. I heard tapas get shot down and winebar too. I figured my plan for dead. There were two ladies in the crowd who were vehemently vociferous against just about every application. How would I get by those two ladies? For some reason after the 47, they just got up and left. And as I studied the panel, I felt there were one or two people I could relate too. I got up there shaking, answered some tough questions, conceded a lot (the store is across the street from a school), and used my educational background to full advantage. I would open at five, after all school activities were complete, and my business would be predicated on teaching of Spanish culture and gastronomy. Somehow I passed, much to my shock, and I sat there feeling as if the dream could actually come true. Now all I needed was an actual lease.

End of September 2006

By Chef Mateo

Just a man in pursuit of all things delicious. Eat and Drink life!