It rarely bodes well for restaurants when developers buy the buildings that house them, which is why the recent sale of Barbuto’s home, for a reported $70 million, didn’t sit well with Grub Street. And it sounds as though the inevitable is about to happen. When Grub caught up with Barbuto chef Jonathan Waxman at last night’s event celebrating this year’s crop of Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs, he relayed some grim news: “We’re getting the boot,” he told us. Officially? “Yes, sadly.”
When we asked how much longer the restaurant would be there — Grub plans to eat as much roasted chicken and as many crispy potatoes as possible before the spot closes — Waxman told us the timeline is still up in the air: “We honestly don’t know. We could have two weeks or a year.” When Grub followed up via email this morning, Waxman clarified further, telling us that it’s an issue of the building itself being in escrow, and that the restaurant is “operating as normal” for the time being. He also says there’s still a chance, however small, that the spot won’t actually close, writing, “It is a weird thing to hear your building has been sold, but maybe the guys are fans of Barbuto and we will stay. Who can tell.” But Waxman also told us last night that when — if? — the restaurant does close, it won’t be the end of Barbuto. “We’ll move someplace else. Absolutely.”
Meanwhile, Waxman also just opened a taqueria in Nashville, and says his reboot of Jams, which will be located in the upcoming 1 Hotel in midtown, is coming along. “I’m actually ready; the kitchen is ready. I’m just waiting for the hotel to be ready,” the chef says. “We can’t open before the hotel because of fire safety and all that stuff. So when they’re ready, we’re ready.”
Waxman says he’s hoping that the opening date will happen in the next two months, and Grub’s hoping that it can happen before Barbuto — truly one of Manhattan’s great neighborhood restaurants — has to close for good.