Seymour Burton, as it was.Photo: Jeremy LiebmanSeymour Burton owner Adam Cohn conceded today that his restaurant will reinvent itself later this fall. In an interview with Grub Street, Cohn shares plans for his new, unnamed venture; his hopes for a new "truck stop"–style burger; and why Seymour Burton couldn’t fill seats. Plus, read Cohn’s official (yet colorful) announcement about the closure.
What was wrong with the old Seymour Burton, and why change things?
I’m applying everything that I learned in the first year of running my first restaurant in Manhattan. I’m refining the American concept. One of the problems with Seymour Burton is that it was eclectic. Sometimes a little scattershot. This will be more focused. We’re trying to refine it.
It will be more upscale?
Just the opposite. It’ll be less composed, more traditional, more rustic, handheld Americana.
We’re working on beta versions of a Maryland-style fried chicken. But we’re doing it as a Maryland-style kosher chicken, which is a better chicken and comes pre-brined.
And Josh Shuffman will be in the kitchen?
He will. Josh has been helping out over at E.U. while those guys are between chefs, but he will definitely be the chef at our new restaurant.
Why would you even think of changing the burger? It was the one smash success from the restaurant.
It’s gonna be a different burger. I’m too young to play greatest hits. It’s un–Bob Dylan–like to do so. We’re looking at traditional Americana. I kind of want a roadside burger. A smashed burger, like the kind you love. Not a slider; more like a classic truck-stop burger, thin with the taste of seared meat, salt, and pepper.
That means you have to give the English muffin the heave-ho. A truck-stop burger is served on a white, enriched bun.
I’ve crossed that Rubicon already.…Like the restaurant itself, the burger is getting a complete gut job. It will be totally redesigned and rebuilt in September.
Adam Cohn’s official announcement about the closure of Seymour Burton:
Since the DOH was kind enough to offer us an opportunity to take a break this summer it would have been rude to refuse. Having been driven to our knees, we though, while we’re down there, might as well patch the floors. Our renovations, now quite substantive, will carry on through mid-September.
[Co-owner Adam] Kushner has decided it’s time to declare victory and depart the field. Juggling two other careers and twins at home is plenty for one man. We shall be poorer for his absence.
Shuffman and most of the rest of the crew have sought refuge with our friends at the EU, filling a vacuum that was created suddenly and, for them, fortuitously some time last month. But, like the swallows of Capistrano, they will return.
We are an American restaurant, not only in the food that we serve but in our capacity for self-promotion, in our ability to re-invent ourselves, and because we never have sense enough to know when were beaten. So we’ll be back.