La Esquina has undergone some change of late — it got a new chef in Akhtar Nawab and then a new manager in Gwen Butler. And now with Serge Becker making headlines, owners James Gersten and Derek Sanders want to clear something up, and so they’ve released a statement to Grub Street.
Several years ago, it was incorrectly reported [by the Times] that Serge Becker is an owner of the La Esquina. While Serge is a friend and former consultant to the restaurant, he is not, nor has he ever been, an owner, partner or equity shareholder in La Esquina.
The long overdue disavowal reminds us of the time that Becker insisted to us that Cordell Lochin (who was then facing drug charges) was not a partner in La Esquina, despite the fact that his name is etched into the sidewalk along with those of Gersten, Sanders, and Becker. Back then, Becker said that La Esquina was a client of his consulting firm. But as recently as May, when the restaurant was closed by the city, the Post cited Becker as an owner speaking for the restaurant, though they didn’t quote him directly. A couple of months before that, Becker conducted a rare interview, and BlackBook also referred to him as a partner. Until now, Gersten and Sanders haven’t done much if anything to change that widespread perception.
About a month ago, a La Esquina insider told us that Becker sits in on meetings, but the official story, for those who care, is that he doesn’t own any points in the restaurant and that he merely received a “consultant’s fee.” Ya got it? Good.