MURRAY HILL — The East Village eatery that serves all macaroni and cheese all the time has grown, bringing the cheesy, gooey recipes that earned it a devoted following to a brand new location in Murray Hill.
The new location of S'MAC on East 33rd Street between Third and Lexington, which opened for lunch only on Sept. 18, now serves both lunch and dinner seven days a week.
So far, Sarita Ekya, who owns the business with her husband — S'MAC stands for Sarita's Macaroni and Cheese — said the neighborhood has embraced the concept of eating a variety of noodle and cheese combinations out of piping hot, cast-iron skillets.
“People have been so gracious here,” Ekya said, sitting inside the roomy new location, which gives diners three times the space they have at S’MAC’s original location on East 12th Street.
S’MAC also operates a take-out kiosk at First Park on the corner of First Avenue and First Street.
Ekya first announced plans to open in Murray Hill several months ago, when she and her husband launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise the necessary funds to open the new location.
The goal was $100,000 in 30 days — a target the company failed to hit in time, raising instead just over $2,300 before the clock ran out, Ekya said.
Ekya said the company found other ways to cobble together the necessary cash, and business has been steady since the soft opening several weeks ago, with many of the customers entirely new to S’MAC.
“A lot of customers actually haven’t been to 12th Street but just work around the block,” she explained. “It’s actually just going to open us up to a whole new community.”
But longtime S’MAC fans are also taking advantage of having a new spot to get their mac n’ cheese fix.
Eileen Wallgren, 47, and Elyse Molina, 25, enjoyed a late lunch at S’MAC in Murray Hill on Tuesday.
Molina was visiting from Los Angeles, and hitting up S’MAC was one of her requests before she left the city on Wednesday evening.
“I had to fit it in,” said Molina, who was enjoying the Cheeseburger, made with cheddar and American cheeses and seasoned ground beef.
“It was a very important stop on her itinerary,” added Wallgren, who ordered the Napoletana, made with fresh mozzarella, roasted tomatoes, roasted garlic and basil.
Wallgren, who lives in Sunnyside, Queens, and works on the Upper East Side, has long frequented the S’MAC location on East 12th Street, but she was drawn to the new spot’s size.
“It’s so much bigger,” she said. “I think that’s the only thing about the other location: you didn’t know if you were guaranteed to get a seat.”
Seeing how much space is available at the Murray Hill location, Wallgren said she now intends to make it “a very regular stop” for her and her husband.
“It’s brilliant,” she said of the S’MAC concept. “It’s just simple and focused on doing just one thing and doing it really well.”
Ekya said she has not yet secured a beer-and-wine license for the Murray Hill location, but she hopes to before the end of the year.
She is also hoping to add delivery service by November. And she said she and her husband are always thinking about where the company should head next, whether that’s elsewhere in New York City or branching out beyond the Big Apple to the rest of the U.S. or even Canada.
“There’s room for a lot of mac n’ cheese places,” said Ekya, who, at eight months pregnant, has found a new favorite item on her menu: the spicy Buffalo Chicken, made with cheddar and American cheeses, boneless chicken pieces and buffalo wing sauce.
But she added that any new expansion would be slow, and steady.
“We want to grow at a controlled pace that makes sense for our company,” she explained. “We’ve put our heart and soul into this to do it right.”