Gotham Bar and Grill, in business for 36 years and one of New York’s best-known restaurants, closed in March at the start of the pandemic lockdown. At the time, management said the situation was untenable, and that the closing was permanent.
Now it seems there is a possibility that Gotham could reopen after all, if a plan by a former managing partner falls into place.
Bret Csencsitz, who had been with the restaurant for 13 years, is trying to raise money and working out the details of an agreement with a new partner who, he said, also recognizes the legacy the restaurant represents. Mr. Csencsitz said he’s negotiating with the original partners, Jerome Kretchmer, Jeff Bliss, Rick Rathe and Robert Rathe, to acquire the use of the Gotham name, which is trademarked.
Mr. Kretchmer said he and his partners are comfortable with transferring the name, but the details have to be worked out. They no longer have any involvement whatsoever with the restaurant space. Mr. Csencsitz is negotiating a new lease with the landlord.
“Walking away from it was the hardest thing I ever had to do,” Mr. Kretchmer said. “I would look to his success.”
Last year was tumultuous for the restaurant, what with the departure of Alfred Portale, its chef for 34 years, and the arrival of his replacement, the chef Victoria Blamey. Mr. Csencsitz said they hired Ms. Blamey because they wanted “a new voice.” She is working as the chef at the Mayflower Inn & Spa in Washington, Conn., until the fall.
Last November Pete Wells reaffirmed the three stars the restaurant had long held. In addition to the change in chefs, the restaurant had undergone some cosmetic changes.
Though any plans Mr. Csencsitz has depend on reaching agreements with the different parties, he said that he expects to be doing some renovation. “We want to make it feel like the same space but with a new look,” he said.
When it comes to the kitchen, he’s not ready to reveal his wish list. But he hopes the menu will nod to some classic Gotham dishes. Mr. Csencsitz would like to reopen by spring.