When Café Claude closed its doors in January, restaurateur Franck LeClerc planned to reopen with a new menu; however, that plan never made it to fruition, as LeClerc received some offers he couldn't refuse, deciding to close the restaurant for good. Now it turns out that chef-restaurateur Michael Mina (Michael Mina, RN74, Pabu) will take over the space, which he says will be a "pop-up test kitchen," for lack of a better word. "It was all very serendipitous," says Mina. "I was in a meeting with my team discussing how we had all these talented chefs and concepts we've been wanting to try out and a week later that space became available. It all came together really quickly."
For at least the next 6-10 months, the test kitchen will serve as home to an array of concepts from the Mina Group's chefs, that will change every three months. "We have so many talented chefs that work with the Mina Group, and they have great ideas of their own," said Mina. "They want to do more, and they deserve the opportunity." And, after the initial test period, Mina may choose to do a slight remodel and open the most successful concept they've tried. Or, he may just keep it as is, depending on how the overall test kitchen concept is received by the neighborhood. And while a concept that is introduced in the new space could be great, it may not work for the neighborhood, in which case "We could go out and find a space for it somewhere else in town," said Mina.
The first iteration of the the test kitchen will be a collaboration between Mina and Adam Sobel, executive chef of RN74, highlighting their mutual passion for Eastern Mediterranean food. Mina's Egyptian background will influence the menu, as well as the style of service— though the menu will technically be a five-course tasting menu, Mina wants to the food flow seamlessly, with "dishes just coming to the table like they do at my parents' house."
The first concept (name TBD), will offer dinner service Wednesday-Saturday with a price range of $40-45. And though the kitchen and dining room are ready to go, the menu is still under construction. Right now the first pop-up should hit the scene during the third week of July. Stay tuned tuned for a name, a menu, and more.